“Trouble in the Wind”

Earlier this year, authors Chris Kennedy and James Young partnered to bring to market a trilogy of alternate-history short story anthologies of combat.  They called it “The Phases of Mars“.  The first book, “Those in Peril“, dealt with the sea and naval combat.  The second volume, “To Slip the Surly Bonds“, dealt with aircraft and aerial warfare. The third and final volume covers war on land, and includes a story by yours truly.  It’s titled “Trouble in the Wind“, and has just been published.  In less than 24 hours, it’s already reached the #1 New Release position on Amazon.com in Science Fiction Anthologies. The

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Saturday Snippet: The USS Enterprise and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

As we all know, the US aircraft carriers weren’t at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked it on December 7th, 1941.  However, they weren’t far away.  USS Enterprise was one of only three US carriers (along with USS Saratoga and USS Ranger) to serve throughout World War II from the first day to the last.  As the Japanese attack went in, she was returning to Pearl Harbor after delivering fighter aircraft to Wake Island, soon to be occupied by Japan. Cdr. Edward P. Stafford wrote a history of the ship, “The Big E”.  Published in 1962, it’s become one of the classic accounts of naval warfare.  I’m particularly pleased

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A priceless journalistic boo-boo!

This correction notice had me rolling in the aisles – and yes, it’s genuine.  I’ll let the tweet speak for itself. A Purple Heart for an IUD injury?  I imagine emergency room staff all over the country would pay for the privilege of treating that injury . . . that is, if they could stop laughing long enough to do so!  As for the officer writing the citation for the medal, it could only be a miscreant Second Lieutenant fresh out of OCS! Verily, the mind doth boggle . . . Peter

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Saturday snippet: the opening battle of the Red River War in 1874

Today’s snippet is taken from the autobiography of legendary Western scout and Indian fighter Billy Dixon, as recorded by his wife during the last year of his life, and completed by her after his death in 1913.  It’s titled “Life of Billy Dixon, Plainsman, Scout and Pioneer“. Dixon (shown below) was one of the great figures of the Indian Wars and the Old West. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in the Buffalo Wallow fight of 1874, shortly after the events narrated here (one of only eight ever awarded to civilians).  Due to his status as a civilian scout,

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A remarkable man

I recently came across a video interview of a British Army veteran who, at the age of 94, jumped into Normandy, France, as part of this year’s 75th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day Landings in 1944.  It surprised me to see it, because I’d met him before, more than 30 years ago. This interview with Mr. Hutton was filmed a few years earlier. Little did the cameraman and reporter know that Jock Hutton was far more than just another D-Day veteran.  He was – and remains – a living legend in the Special Forces community. Former Squadron Sergeant Major of the Rhodesian Special Air

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I’ll see your backed-up toilet, and raise you

an exploding maritime convenience! Paul, Dammit!, who blogs over at Hawsepiper, tells the gruelling tale of cleaning up after the ship’s head (or toilet, for those who don’t speak nautical) exploded over the weekend.  Go read all the gory details for yourself. When cleanup involves a Tyvek isolation suit, a respirator, a hose, and bleach by the gallon, I think we can safely say it’s rather worse than the average backed-up domestic toilet! Peter

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I’d hate to go to war in a ship like that – but men did

Following on from our discussion yesterday about a shipwreck discovered deep beneath the Baltic Sea, and comparing its size to Columbus’ three ships that he used to cross the Atlantic, I was taken with the story of USS Providence in the Revolutionary War.  She was a sloop-of-war, approximately 65 feet in length, with a crew of 54 and carrying 12 four-pounder cannon (just about the smallest naval cannon of their day).  Since each cannon usually required a crew of six or more gunners, a crew that small meant that she could fire only one broadside (i.e. the guns on a single side of the ship) at a time, but

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Destroying an Iraqi nuclear reactor, 38 years ago

On June 7, 1981, Israeli F-16 fighter-bombers destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad.  It was known as Operation Opera (also called Operation Babylon in some circles).  It put an end to Saddam Hussein’s hopes of developing his own nuclear weapons. 38 years later, the pilots who undertook that mission have been reminiscing about it. Thirty-eight years after Operation Opera — the Israeli air attack that destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak — surviving pilots gathered to mark the event, noting “one of the greatest ironies in history”: that the attack was enabled by the Islamic Revolution in Iran. When Israel discovered

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It’s about time!

For some time, the US military has been investigating medals awarded for valor in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s been postulated that some actions should have been recognized at a considerably higher level than the medals that were actually awarded.  Military.com tells us that several Medals of Honor may be conferred as a result. Four Medals of Honor. Thirty Service Crosses. Twenty-three Silver Stars. After a three-year review of medals for military heroism in conflicts following Sept. 11, 2001, the Pentagon has upgraded 57 awards for valor — and so far, sailors are the biggest beneficiaries. Officials told Military.com that the

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The greatest amphibious invasion in history, 75 years ago today

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces landed in Normandy, France.  It was the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany’s occupation of Western Europe.  Together with the far larger and more deadly battles on the Eastern Front at the same time, it signaled the impending doom of that most evil of empires. My parents both went through World War II, my father in uniform, my mother on the so-called Home Front.  The experience changed them forever.  It was one of the truly pivotal conflicts in the history of humankind, and still resonates to this day.  Here are some video clips

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