First German Army Award for Bravery in 64 Years!

The German army has reinstated an award for bravery for soldiers of the Bundeswehr.  It is the first award for bravery for German soldiers since the end of World War II.  Though traditionalist will lament the break with the 130 year German tradition of the Iron Cross, I believe the “Cross of Honor for Bravery,” the Ehrenkreuz der Bundeswehr für Tapferkeit, is a good compromise.  A cross of any kind links it strongly to the German military tradition without linking it to the baggage of the German Military in WWII.

As the article below indicates, 35 German soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, and many more wounded.  As I understand it, the Germans do not yet have the equivelant of a purple heart or wounds badge.  Something I’m sure their veterans organizations are working on. 

Sixty-one percent of the German population is against their operations in Afghanistan.  The population is generally against anything that shows support for the military.  Germany is a very pacifist country. In speaking to many allied military officers I have often heard it said that they envy the status and appreciation the American military receives from the American people.  They think we’re pretty lucky.  I agree with them –we’re pretty fortunate to be American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.

See the Spiegel Article Here.

See the various grades of the Honor Cross Here.

Everybody Loves the B-17 –including me.

Mission Completed by Robert Taylor

"Mission Completed" by Robert Taylor

I ran across this article the other day.  It describes a typical local airshow B-17 fly in and I thought I would share some thoughts on why I love Fying Fortresses.

My earliest memories of the Flying Fortress are from around 1963 when my father bought and built for me the old Revelle 1:72 scale Memphis Belle kit.  That model hung from my bedroom light fixture for the next 10 years at a variety of homes at the bases the USAF sent us to:  Ramstein AFB, Wiesbaden AFB, Lindsey Air Station, Langley AFB, Andrews AFB, Hof Air Station, and finally back to Ramstein; which is the last place I remember seeing it.  It was a classic kit and I may have to build it again sometime just for old times sake.  I have the 1:48 scale Monogram kit, and someday I want to build it, all out with every super-detail I can squeeze into it.  The problem will be –how do you display something that big?


The NovelThe next time the “Fort” made an impression on me was the old TV series “Twelve O’Clock High.”  Not the movie –I didn’t see that until much later. I had the phrase “Pilot to Bomadier”  burned into my brain.  The series still is good solid action adventure circa 1964.  The novel by Bernie Lay, and then the movie with Gregory Peck as General Savage, are even better, but I didn’t discover them until much later.

 In junior high school the very first “big” adult military history book I ever read was the Martin Caiden classic Flying Forts.  I still have that ballentine paperback –its now over 35 years old with the cover taped on.  It started me on my serious interest in military history.  Through my high school years I read everything Caiden wrote, and almost everything published in the ballentine paper back war series.

After college my interest in the 8th Air Force and B-17s continued.  I bought and read the really good classics:  8th Air Force War Diary, The Mighty Eighth, and Flying Fortress by Jablonski.  The more you read on the 8th Air Force , the B-17s, the air battles, and the pilots and crews, the more you want to read.  The whole thing is like a cult that I’m not sure is replicated by any other facet of World War II or even in military history.  The B-17 is the subject of art models, books, TV shows, movies, and even action figures!

My last experience personal experience, other than reading the article mentioned above, with the B-17 was about two years ago.  It was a saturday afternoon and I was working on fence posts on my farm in Kansas.  All of a sudden I heard this deep throated roar of radial engines… very low.  Well, I immediately recognized it from dozens of documentaries, TV shows, and movies as the sound of four 1200 hp Wright Cyclone GR-1820-65 radial engines of aB-17.  Looking up, I instantly spotted a G model B-17 flying at about 1000 feet –low and slow.  It was sureal.  A B-17 over my patures in the middle of Kansas in 2007!  Timewarp??  No… unfortunately.  It was flying demonstration rides for the Amelia Earhart air show in Atcheson Kansas (her hometown) about 20 miles north of my farm.  Still…it was super cool and a memory I won’t ever forget. 


Winters Welcom by Robert Taylor

Winter's Welcom by Robert Taylor

 The B-17 and I have a connection.  Its not  flying or a combat connection.  Not even a history connection.  Probably its  mostly emotional and sentimental –it has to a lot to do with life as well as war birds.  But its a connection none-the-less, and I enjoy it.  I’m sure thousands, if not tens of thousands of others, have   similar feelings 🙂

Chuckie of the Vintage Flying Museum in Fort Worth TX

"Chuckie" of the Vintage Flying Museum in Fort Worth TX

Published in: on July 28, 2009 at 12:04 pm  Comments (2)  
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Support the Irish Army Equestrian Team!

If you needed another reason to love the Irish here it is– the Irish Army still  maintains an Army Equestrian Team!

Unfortunately, as the article below, from Horseand, eludes to, there is a movement to shut them down.  Once again it brings to mind the issue of why a small country like Ireland can maintain an important link to military tradition and the American military can’t seem to.  Sometimess I think we are too good at looking forward in anticipation and not good enought at looking back forinspiration.

Make sure you follow the link and check out the Army equestrian school website.

Click here to link to my article on the U.S. Army Equestrian Team.

Ireland‘s Army Equitation School could be closed down

 Ellie Hughes

21 July, 2009

Dublin’s Army Equitation School, which has trained some of Ireland’s best show jumpers and eventers, could be the victim of cuts in defence budgets.

A report commissioned by the Irish government to identify ways to save money in the public sector has recommended that disbanding the army equitation team and closing its centre would save around €1million.

Read the rest of the article here.

Book Review: The Philippine War, 1899 – 1902

The Philippine War, 1899-1902, by Brian McAllister Linn (Lawrence:  University Press of Kansas, 2000), 427.

Brian Linn’s The Philippine War is the best history of the U.S. war in the Philippines from February 1899 to July 1902.  Linn’s work systematically covers all aspects of the war, all the major personalities, and makes a special effort to address the major myths and misconceptions regarding the war.  Linn’s history is simply the best, clear, and objectively reasoned discussion of  the military aspects of the war yet written.

One of the great values of Linn’s work is his efforts to provide balance and accuracy to the many misconceptions and myths that have been created or perpetuated by earlier histories of the war.  Thus, though conceding that Generals Otis and MacArthur were quirky personalities who made some serious mistakes, he also recognizes that each of the first two American commanders were essentially competent and in different areas, very capable.  Otis, the trained lawyer, laid the foundation of the President McKinley’s benevolence policy, while MacArthur recognized the need for and supervised the well run counterinsurgency campaign of 1901.  Linn backs up John Gate’s analysis that the major part of the insurgency was won by the time MacArthur gave up command in the Summer of 1901 and makes the point that the Samar and Batangas campaigns, the most infamous of the war, were not typical of the war in general.

Read Complete Review Here.