The iconic image of the flag-raising atop Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi was snapped by war-photographer Joe Rosenthal, seventy years ago today.
Two and a half years before, the United States had begun its march across the Pacific in the War against Japan -- landing on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Guadalcanal had but one resource or feature of any strategic significance -- an airfield that put Japanese bombers within reach of Australia.
Wresting Guadalcanal and its airfield from the Japanese halted their advance in the South Pacific and gave American airpower a land base from which to carry the fight north toward Japan.
Like Guadalcanal, the island of Iwo Jima had but one resource or feature of any strategic significance -- an airfield, roughly midway between the large air bases on the recently captured islands of Saipan and Tinian.
Nearly seven thousand American Marines and Navy Corpsmen died taking Iwo.
In fact, because the island was too small for use as an Army or Marine staging base and had no significant port facilities, many historians and strategists discount the worth of taking Iwo.
But, that view is narrow and short-sighted, in the Colonel's not-so-humble opinion.
Heavy U.S. bombers attacking mainland Japan, could just make the long over-water hauls from Tinian to Tokyo and back. Any damage suffered over Japan, or any non-battle mechanical trouble (the long-range B-29 bomber -- then the most advanced of its kind -- had notoriously unreliable engines), often meant ditching in the expansive Western Pacific with little hope of rescue.
Over the course of the next several months, as the Army Air Corps stepped up its bombing campaign over the Japanese home islands, over a thousand B-29 bombers -- each with an eleven-man crew -- made emergency landings on Iwo's airfield.
Thousands of U.S. Army Air Corps fliers owed their lives to thousands of Marines who died taking Iwo.
The favor was returned -- the aerial assault, culminating in the atomic strikes in August of 1945, brought the surrender of Japan and eliminated the need for horrendously costly amphibious assaults on the home islands of Japan.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Monday, February 02, 2015
Groundhogs are destructive creatures, ranking right up there, in the Colonel's not-so humble opinion, with that peculiar armored anteater, the armadillo.
The armadillo, at least, has, as a redeeming quality, its taste for fire ants.
Its greater and less-painful taste for grubs, however, drive it to pock-mark the Colonel's otherwise well-manicured lawns surrounding the Big House here aboard Eegeebeegee with miniature craters that give the yard the appearance of a between-the-trenches no-man's land.
As far as crater creation goes, a groundhog is an armadillo on steroids.
Here aboard the Colonel's vast holdings at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere, both armadillo and groundhog are subject to the same "shoot on sight" orders published for coyotes, bobcats, 'coons, and other stray critters that prey on the furred and feathered game extant afield around Eegeebeegee.
The celebration of the squinty-eyed shadow sighting of an outlaw rodent with no redeeming qualities whatsoever perplexes the Colonel to nearly the same degree as the undue attention paid the Easter Bunny, the polar-dwelling elf, and the Great Pumpkin. All are distinct targets of his disdain.
To be clear, the Colonel has no disdain for the Christ-centered holidays into which the first two malevolent mascots above have interloped. He celebrates the reason for the first two holidays with all his soul -- and ignores the third, as he shuns all other satanic insinuations.
The point to this ponderous post, after which the thousands of you who faithfully follow have frantically sought since the offensive opening, is that the horrid second calendar month -- one so detested by the Colonel that he is loathe to even write its given name -- is so stinking horrible that it's opening act is a large fat rat providing a long-range weather forecast.
Seriously? No meteorologist in North America can predict next weekend's weather with any more certainty than a coin toss, and we're all wrapped around the axle over a groundhog's climate change call.
Sorry, fellow Februaphobes; it only gets worse.
The better part of the next two weeks will be a living hell of constant reminders that a day at the middle of the month hosts an occasion that is supposed to be the most significant day in our relationship with our most significant others.
News flash: If you wait until Valentines Day to show that significant other how special he, she, or it is, then he, she, nor it, ain't all that significant nor special.
Monday, January 26, 2015
A hundred billion galaxies in the universe we know, each with at least that many stars.
For the sake of simplicity, and so as not to confuse his friends with degrees from schools not called Ole Miss, the Colonel will limit the discussion to one not involving multiple parallel universes. Just this universe, with it's trillions of possible worlds, will suffice.
Chances are, in a single trillion instances, there exists at least a thousand other worlds like this one.
Chances are, on at least one of those thousand worlds there teems billions like us.
Chances are, that life is like all life on our planet -- competitive for survival's sake.
Chances are, life on that planet is organized in competing societies -- warring societies.
Chances are, one of those warring societies has achieved superiority and maintained it by force of arms and a preeminent warrior class.
Chances are, thousands of that warrior class are living out their peaceful retirement in the heartlands.
Chances are, that planet revolves around its star much slower than does ours.
The retired centurion living at the shallow northern end of the deep southern nowhere on a land mass on that faraway planet just turned 35 today.
The Colonel thinks he'll celebrate that man's birthday today, instead of his own...