When will we ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?

Arlington National Cemetery is running out of room.

And that’s only one of our national cemeteries. Col. Harold Joseph O’Grady is buried at Fort Logan in Denver, along with three Medal of Honor recipients, seven Buffalo Soldiers, two Navajo Code Talkers from New Mexico, and Spec. Gabriel Conde of Colorado, a kindergartner on 9/11 who was the 2,264th member of the U.S. military to die in the war in Afghanistan.

I guess we finally found out where all those flowers have gone.


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16 Responses to “When will we ever learn?”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Good day Señor. Your Pop is in good company.

    We will never learn. If one person says “thank you for your service” to me, I will just tell them it was nothing, because that is what it amounted to. Other than giving me a new and lasting perspective on the world, I was pissing into the wind.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The infobahn includes many fascinating detours. I wasn’t certain what to write for this Memorial Day until I saw the NYT story on Arlington by Dave Philipps, who was a reporter at the Gazette (my former employer in Bibleburg) when he won his Pulitzer.

      That piece naturally led to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” And then I saw the WaPo story about Spec. Conde, who turned out to be a Coloradan now sharing a cemetery with my old man.

      It’s a strange little old world we live in. And getting stranger every day.

  2. Herb from Michigan Says:

    On a whim I rode around Fort Custer National Cemetary near Battle Creek MI last week on a beautiful day. 750 acres of bucolic fields and forest quite fitting as final resting place for so many. Parked the bike and read some of the memorial plaques and watched a large team of workers getting ready for this past weekend. Even with the brilliant sun, the buzz of mowers and grass trimmers, the place still felt lonely and melancholy. Although there were many old timers buried there after living a long and hopefully full life-it was the markers of those who died in the full bloom of youth that spoke loudest to me.

  3. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    Here’s a story about a B-24 crew that never made it to the cemetery and the folks who found the wreckage of their downed WWII aircraft.

    These men were Fifth Air Force — 320th Squadron of the 90th Bombardment Group. My old man was another Fifth Air Force flyer, with the 65th Squadron of the 433rd Troup Carrier Group.

    The Fifth was based in Australia, New Guinea and elsewhere in the South Pacific during the war, so they may have crossed paths a time or two. Who knows?

    While we wonder, check out the video of the search for “Heaven Can Wait” from Project Recover.

    And yeah, Herb, the ages are striking. The bombardier on “Heaven Can Wait” was just 21 when he died. My dad the C-47 pilot must have been considered a geezer at 25. When I was 25 I was in the Fake News, and the only shooters I had to worry about came with beer backs.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      That is an excellent video from the Recover project. I would think those folded American flags the Recover team prepared while reading the names of the Heaven Can Wait bomber crew are treasured by their kin.

      Your 5/28/2000 post about Memorial Day in Weirdcliffe is classic Mad Dog Media. Well done.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Thank you, sir. A blast from the past, for sure. I may be a peace creep, but I got smart enough to develop some appreciation of what may have stripped the old man of his girlish laughter.

        The family legend was that as a young man he had hoped to become a veterinarian. The world had other ideas. A pity, because he was always good with animals, and they liked him.

    • khal spencer Says:

      My two uncles got back in one piece. Ralph’s biggest danger was pissing off General Raymond Wheeler, to whom he was an aide in India. I guess he didn’t, since both of them returned stateside as army corps of engineers guys and Ralph worked on the Mt. Morris Dam in Upstate NY. Roy actually took incoming as part of the Third Army in Europe but didn’t get hurt either.

      Our chief machinist in the Stony Brook Geosciences Dept. was Fred Gwinner. He walked with a serious limp and one day when I was in the department machine shop I noticed a staged picture of a bunch of WW II airmen. Turns out Fred was a crew member on a B-24 that got shot down over Europe. I never had the heart to ask him whether the other guys in that photo made it back.

      Fred Woodard, who I know as a Rochester Police Force cop when I was an undergrad (he moonlighted at U of R Security and I was working on the force as a guard to make money for tuition, beer, and motorcycles), actually had the roughest war of anyone I know. Fred was with the 101st Airborne and was in some of the worst of it (D-Day and Bastogne and some in between). Fred joked that he always carried his RPD badge when traveling by plane since he had so much metal in him he couldn’t get through an airport metal detector. He passed away of natural causes around the turn of the century, so I heard.

      I have a Korean War medical corps ring from the guy responsible for my birth, although he and I never met.

      Me? I’ve not done shit. Hat off to all of you who did.

  4. Herb from Michigan Says:

    From the Obscure Files. Jimi Hendrix supposedly was trained as a paratrooper before being honorable discharged from the 101st Airborne. I wonder what he would think of today’s world scene? Hey Joe, The Wind Cries Mary , Little Wing.
    Sure he was “moved out” of the military quickly as his superiors could see he wasn’t going to be dependable Vietnam fodder. Still, makes one wonder what would be the outcome of mandatory military service here in the USA? Would LOVE to see congressional leaders placing their precious offspring in for a two year hitch.

    • khal spencer Says:

      When we had a draft during my misspent youth, the nation screamed bloody murder when the body bags started coming back from Vietnam in large numbers (I’ll let Pat comment in detail). Now that its an all volunteer force and made up primarily of working class and the upscale folks don’t much have to worry, the nation doesn’t seem to give a damn.

      To be sure, people like the Orange Disaster and other members of the rich class managed to skirt military duty due to bone spurs or some such bullshit. That’s been the case since the dawn of the Republic.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      And “thank you for your service” doesn’t get ’er done for the all-volunteer service these days (if it ever did).

      Some 23,000 military families receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Also, read the work that won Dave Philipps his Pulitzer. Multiple deployments and a cost-cutting, bean-counter mentality — waging war on the cheap — use up troops in a cold-blooded fashion.

      But don’t worry, we still have plenty of money for the F-35, which Charlie Pierce has dubbed the Flying Swiss Army Knife. Though it doesn’t appear to be providing us with much service for which we might thank it. …

      Speaking of Charlie, he finally chimed in today, and as always what he wrote is well worth the reading.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      War may not be peace, but it sure is profitable. Any logistician (I used to be one) worth their beans knows that any weapon system has to be developed using Life Cycle Cost Analysis modeling as part of the source selection process. The contracting officer on this program should have been fired.

      Charlie Pierce hits the nail on the head again. Twenty more F-35 than the Air Force wanted. The dumpster just poured money on the DoD thinking it would lead to a more lethal force. And the Congress backed this stupid fucking play and added a tax cut to boot that popped us to a trillion dollar deficit for the fiscal year.

      Want to ruin your sleep tonight? Check this out.


      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        C’mpn man. the debt (and other s–t like that) only matters to the Rethugs when their man is NOT in the White House! They like to crow about “tax and spend” Democrats but these bozos are just spend, spend, spend…put it all on the next generation’s credit card, dontcha know? Same s–t, different day.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Didn’t I read somewhere that the F-35 lost in areal combat to F-15’s and 16’s?

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        I don’t really think it matters that the F-35 isn’t as good as the F-16 or A-10 in very defined dogfighting or close air support roles. The problem is that it is has gross cost over runs and unacceptable delivery date delays, over 2 years, on major contract requirements like Initial Operation Capability Testing. Plus the F-35 that have been delivered are unreliable and extremely expensive to repair and modify. An A-10 that flies is certainly better to the grunt in enemy contact that a F-35 that is grounded. There is also a contractural requirement for minimum mission availability that the vendor has failed to meet. The program manager should have terminated this contract years ago, and probably would have, but couldn’t because of direct political interference. An example of this interference is buying more planes than the DoD said it needed. Waste, fraud, and abuse is what.

        • khal spencer Says:

          The NNSA just decided to split pit production between New Mexico (LANL) and South Carolina (SRNL). Our Congressional delegation is screaming bloody murder as they wanted the whole enchilada for LANL. It is about jobs, aka pork barrel spending.

          75 years of LANL (and however long Sandia has been here) has not gotten New Mexico out of the national doghouse in a whole bunch of areas including education, drug abuse, unemployment, lack of economic growth, etc. I can’t help but think that overdependence of New Mexico on the Federal teat has something to do with it.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        This is what happens when you have too many cooks in the kitchen. At least one of them is bound to mistake the soup pot for a urinal.

        What’s the maxim? “A camel is a horse designed by committee?”

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