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On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the continuous guns fell silent…… After years of incoming artillery’s deep, resonant pounding,…..the quiet began. The rare pop of small arms fire,….. faded away. Cautiously a brave soul or two crawled out and stood on top of the trenches. Turning to the other side, they saw the enemy of just a few minutes before, mirroring their own actions…..It was truly over.
Compared to the rest of Europe, the US fared well. Germany, France, Great Britain lost an entire generation of their young men…..
Some dreamed that surely, after such a waste, there never could, or would be such a war again……
It was only a dream…..as history would soon prove……
On this day, there are 22 verified veterans left….worldwide. Four of these are Americans. Soon the last living memories of this war….. will fade away……….
My brush with living memories happened when I was in High School. What the German war machine failed to do………an insignificant clot accomplished. Those who visited, told stories of the dark, turbulent wrestling within the soul……They whispered of an alert mind, albeit one locked in the year 1917 from which it would ultimately and peacefully escape…. They spoke in hushed tones of an old man, possessing enormous strength, incapable of being subdued by even the hospital’s largest orderlies……They told of the soldier’s enterprising son, who climbing back into those years to be with him, and navigating the treacherous barbed wire memories, peacefully calmed him down, until the old soldier finally accepted that his war was over, and quietly signed his own armistice with God………..
We learned he had suffered from shell shock as they called it then, spending the post-war years in a sanitarium somewhere in occupied Germany, of the bland letters to his wife and unseen child back home, letters whose lack of substance during this vapid time, played rabidly on her fears of another women…..
We heard stories of involuntary reactions, occurring some twenty years later…of a face, framed by white hair, turned scarlet in the middle of a social gathering, when someone absently said, “Oh that was during the war.”
And then there were the personal effects, a letter rapidly written in German by a dying officer, with our hero’s first name mentioned as being the one entrusted to make sure the letter got back to his wife, a letter that said the war would soon be over for him, that the only important thing he hung onto as he crossed over to the the other side, were the times he and she had shared together……..As kids we used to march around in a dough boy’s hat, and a genuine spiked Prussian helmet. (the originals were all black, by the way, no silver.)
And then the youngest son, who came along after our soldier had mellowed somewhat, told of stumbling with his dad, across a model of one battlefield, I think it was Belleau Wood, and how that opened up the memories which, pent up for years, calmly flowed out unrepressed, with no emotional consequences.
Through this, we heard the story of a young officer defying a direct order to attack, solely because the objective was unattainable and trying to attempt it, would wipe out every one of his men….Who opting, instead of facing a firing squad, to have himself crawl into no mans land……accompanied only by his sergeant who had stood steadfast with him during this ordeal only to get ripped apart minutes later, had to lie there for two days protected under the warm, safe body which occasionally absorbed a well placed bullet, kept safe by only the tiniest rise of land preventing a direct shot…..
The story of showing up in France, and leading the AEF’s first attack, upon a fortified hill surrounded by the Meuse, and succeeding…..
Those memories didn’t die….they passed and took seed in another generation. Today they lie embedded in one more, a generation who once again questions the “why” of war.
Like his grandfather before him, this person too was brought up under a religion that seem to question war and tell us to “turn the other cheek.” Like his grandfather before him, this person too believes that sometimes there is no greater duty, than to give one’s life for one’s country……..How are these two, supposedly opposite points of view, ever to be reconciled?
We know that Jesus allowed his disciples to carry swords. During the final days, when he asks the disciples if they have a sword, and Peter shows two, he says that is enough…..But later that night when Peter uses his sword to protect Jesus and cuts off a servant’s ear, Jesus tells him sternly. “Put that away. We will have no more of that…”
Fascinating. This duality starts from the beginning of the Christian religion itself.
Throughout history, the worst wars fought have been religious ones. The longest animosities, the ones considered too hard to bury, are those originally pricked by religion….
When we are told to turn the other cheek, perhaps we are to do that on a personal level…. By doing so, hoping that we show others, just how deeply we believe these principals . Perhaps this line of thought recognizes that we are each small instruments of change; but a change of heart in multitudes of men, can implement massive changes…..Therefore doing a self deprecating act, such as dying for another, or carrying an enemy soldier’s bag an extra mile, can have a much greater impact overall, than another killing and the loss of one dead soldier…..
But as a nation of free people we have another responsibility. That responsibility is to ensure that justice, (or that which is right),… prevails over evil, (or that which is wrong)…. As some of you may note, there is a wide play of interpretation in just exactly what is right, and what is wrong…..
But for a strong nation to appease a despot like Stalin, Hitler, or those tyrants in Burma, does exactly the opposite of performing justice. Instead it shows others, despite our words, that we implicitly support these evil regimes, and in doing so, we fail to send hope and inspiration to those who fight, to right the wrongs caused by their misguided leaders….
War enacted by a political state is sometimes a necessity, the last remaining line of defense against the selfish designs of a demented few. Less pain and suffering worldwide, can be bandaged by enacting war, than by allowing open wounds to fester, rot, and spread their evil infection elsewhere.
Therefore as a nation, the United States must occasionally gamble all of it’s resources in the ultimate test…. One must on occasion risk all, to determine whether all was worthy to be risked……
Any nation is only as good as its foot soldiers,…. its grunts. Those choice veterans I know, with whom I’ve hugged, laughed, and cried, …… continue to reinforce the notion I once had as a child: that based on the quality of people who put their lives on the line for this nation, we are truly the best nation to have ever lived upon this planet……..
I am beginning to appreciate what a treasure Delaware has in its 2 hour news radio broadcast, that is every time the Phillies do not play, on WDEL. It’s damned original. Allan Loudell often brings home the bacon, instead of remicrowaving the crumbs uneaten by others……
It was while listening to this station, that I first became enamored with the Syrian-Israeli story. Ironically investigation points out that it had some nefarious connections to to the other story I first heard on WDEL, “The Missing Nuke’s Story.”
Here is the timeline.
August 30th, 2007 A Minot AFB stationed B-52 flies 6 nuclear warheads attached to a decommissioned type or Cruise missile known for its stealth and firepower.
It sits on the Barksdale AFB’s tarmac for 10 hours before the Military Times, part of the Gannet organization, investigates after receiving tips by three officers that the mishap was in the process of occurring. At the time of confirmation 5 of the 6 nuclear warheaded missiles are accounted for.
Late Night of September 5th, Israeli F16’s leave Ramat David Air Force Base and head west out over the Mediterranean on a routine flight pattern. Turning hard right and firing their afterburners they invaded Syrian airspeed above Mach II speeds. Waiting for them in the northeast Syrian desert, was an advance Israeli ground crew, outfitted with laser guiding bomb sites. Syria says their anti aircraft responded, but Israel boasts they were taken by surprise. There were several major explosions, to which Syria accounts for dropped fuel tanks. All planes returned to their base in the pre dawn hours of Sept 6th.
Israel has not commented. Citing the wisdom of being at war for 40 years. Tsahi Hanegbi, head of the Israeli foreign affairs and defence committee, earlier said the government has adopted a policy of silence over the incident to ease tensions, but was taking Syrian threats of retaliation seriously. “We have to show restraint and it is in our interest to say nothing… This policy has proven itself. The tensions have slightly eased since 12 days ago. The more we bite our tongue, the better it will go,”
How wise:( if only our Democrats and republicans could follow their example.)
Late September 6th, story about missing nukes is broken to public.
September 10th. Mysterious death to a member of the Minot AFB security detail, responsible for security when loading the B-52, while on leave in his home town of Whytheville, VA. Kid was just twenty, religious, and idealistically patriotic. Death still under investigation.
September 14th. Stand-down of the entire Air Combat Command.
Today September 18: Israeli President Shimon Peres says tensions between Israel and Syria are now “over,” and Israel is ready to negotiate for peace with Syria.
There has been much speculation within Washington that neocons, in a disparate move, would attempt something irrationally big to escalate the war, thereby continuing their control of influence within the Beltway.
Israel is not talking. so let see who is.
Writing in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal more than a week before the incident, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton asserted, “We know that both Iran and Syria have long cooperated with North Korea on ballistic missile programs, and the prospect of cooperation on nuclear matters is not far-fetched.”
Today September 18th, this joint statement between Syria and North Korea appeared. Both countries accused US officials of spreading the accusations for political reasons – either to back Israel or to block progress on a deal between Washington and Pyongyang. More likely, the political geography encompasses a turf battle, literally just doors down a hall, within the White House itself.
There could be something to that political reason crap. Condoleezza Rice avoided a shut out by the cabal of White House neocoms, and won a diplomatic coup by appealing directly to Bush and unfreezing the measly 25 million in frozen assets of North Korea, thereby breaking the log jam over the dissolution of their nuclear program. Hard-liners , like Cheney and Boulton, called the Rice accord a bad precedent for dealing with regimes that threaten global stability, particularly with nuclear development. The neocons were desperate to show the world that dealing directly with rogue nations, was just…… “dangerous?”
What better way to do so than have a nuclear device go off during an Israeli attack in the Syrian desert, thereby implicating Syria, North Korea, Hesbollah, and Hesbollah’s supplier, Iran proving once and for all time, that the threat was real? That would clinch the argument that pre-emptive force was morally right, right? Who could ever trust regimes forming the Axis of Evil again?
But something did not work right. There was no nuclear explosion. Just an unexplained adventure in the Syrian desert that has intelligence agencies around the world, scratching their heads………
Did the Cruise missile launched from under the wing of one Israeli F16 misfire? Or did one twenty year old, understand the implications of what was to happen, and switch the red nuclear warhead warning caps, onto dummy missiles and install those believably active warheads, according to orders, underneath the wings of one B-52?
“It was originally reported that five nuclear warheads were transported, but officers who tipped Military Times to the incident who have asked to remain anonymous since they are not authorized to discuss the incident, have since updated that number to six.”
So it was indeed officers who tipped off the Military Times, as was speculated here. But wait! I am confused……which officers? For in the original story posted back on September 5th, we were told that Minot did not even realize nuclear warheads were missing, until they were confirmed as having landed at Barksdale, and once there, they sat unnoticed on the tarmac for ten hours until the Military Times verified they were indeed there. So by default, it was 1) neither officers at Minot, nor 2) the officers at Barksdale who were responsible for alerting the Military Times. And from what we understand, none of the officers aboard the plane knew they were flying “hot”.
The obvious implication from that one statement is that “somewhere out there” were other officers, privy to this transgression which violated nuclear weapons parameters, and were horrified enough to blow the whistle. Whether these warheads were sanctioned for removal by someone in the White House for official business, or were being smuggled out by an unscrupulous arms dealer for profit, it is obvious that all established protocol had been ignored in their transference.
“That’s perhaps what is most worrisome about this particular incident — that apparently an individual who had command authority about moving these weapons around decided to do so,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.
“It’s a command and control issue and it’s one that calls into question the system, because if one individual can do that who knows what can happen,” he said. According to the Military Times:
“ Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said a host of security checks and warning signs must have been passed over, or completely ignored, for the warheads to have been unknowingly loaded onto the B-52…..“It’s not like they had nuclear ACMs and conventional ACMs right next to each other and they just happened to load one with a nuclear warhead,” Kristensen said……The Defense Department uses a computerized tracking program to keep tabs on each one of its nuclear warheads, he said. For the six warheads to make it onto the B-52, each one would have had to be signed out of its storage bunker and transported to the bomber. Diligent safety protocols would then have had to been ignored to load the warheads onto the plane, Kristensen said……All ACMs loaded with a nuclear warhead have distinct red signs distinguishing them from ACMs without a nuclear yield, he said. ACMs with nuclear warheads also weigh significantly more than missiles without them………
Even though some officers knew that the plane was flying “hot”, the plane was allowed to fly SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). “The main risk would have been the way the Air Force responded to any problems with the flight because they would have handled it much differently if they would have known nuclear warheads were on board,” Steve Fetter, a former Defense Department official who worked on nuclear weapons policy in 1993-94, said.
The Air Force has disciplined those involved. Along with the 5th Munitions Squadron commander, the munitions crews involved in mistakenly loading the nuclear warheads at Minot have been temporarily decertified from performing their duties involving munitions, pending corrective actions or additional training,
It is quite possible that it was a simple mistake; someone did not know exactly what they were doing. (This error ironically comes after the Air Force announced last March, that the 5th Bomb Wing won two service wide safety awards during fiscal year 2006.)
Were it truly a mistake then it would be the first time in 39 years, since 1968, that it has been public that a nuclear warhead has flown on a US bomber. Nuclear weapons are normally transferred on special cargo planes, carefully constructed to contain radioactivity in the event of a crash; never on the wings of bombers.
According to Kristensen, the error could not have come from confusing the Advanced Cruise Missile with a conventional weapons since no conventional form exists. The munitions Airmen should have been easily able to spot the mistake. Other routine procedures were violated which awkwardly suggests a rather obvious explanation for the error. The military munitions personnel were acting under direct orders, though not under those passed down through the regular chain of military command.
The quick reaction of the Air Force, the issuing of a public statement describing the seriousness of the issue, and the launch of an immediate investigation, all suggest that whatever occurred, was outside the regular chain of military command extending from Gates downward.
If the regular chain of command was indeed bypassed, then we have no choice but to inquire as to whether the B-52 incident was part of a covert project, whose classification level exceeded those held by the very officers in charge of nuclear weapons at Minot. Some traits point out, that this was indeed a secret transference of nuclear warheads, known only to a select few within the military service. For 1) in this case, protocol was violated at Minot in not signing out the nuclear warheads, 2) was violated by installing “the red caps” under the B52, and 3) was violated by flying unrestricted between the airbases. Quite possibly, solely because of the tip provided by patriotic and non-corrupt officers, someone’s attempt to garnish 6 nuclear warheads was foiled.
After taking a hard look, all other explanations make little sense. Based on what we learned today, we do know this. Decommissioned nuclear warheads, as we were told these were, are to be taken to Kirtland AFB, where according to Kristensen, ” the warheads are separated from the rest of the weapon and shipped to the Energy Department’s Pantex dismantlement facility near Amarillo, Texas”
Instead, the plane flew to Barksdale, which just happens to be a major embarkation point for the Middle East. The speculation most in line with the current events happening today……… is that these advanced cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads, were on their way to the Middle East, to be used, if necessary, against the underground nuclear labs of Iran…..
So what does it boil down to? Three officers may have stopped nuclear weapons going to the Middle East, by alerting the Military Times to some discrepancies in an otherwise routine landing of another B52 in Barksdale.