Looking Back: Week of 09/23/2007

RIDGE PATROL: U.S. Marines from 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment patrol from Expeditionary Patrol Base Dulab to a ridge along the outskirts of Dulab, Iraq, Sept. 26, 2007. The Marines are working with Iraqi police in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Shane S. Keller

More photos here.

Belleau Wood After 93 Years

BELLEAU, France — Machinegunners with Weapons Company, 3rd battalion, 5th Marines, Marine Sgt. Dayton McConnell (right), of Modesto, Calif., and Marine Cpl. Jordan Kinal, of Columbia Station, Ohio, stand atop Hill 142 May 29, the spot of intense fighting during the Battle of Belleau Wood. The Marines of both the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments returned to Belleau Wood after 93 years to commemorate the battle their units fought in 93 years ago. During their trip, they conducted a walkthrough study of the attack and walked in the footsteps of their predecessors. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Rocco DeFilippis)

B-25 Mitchell Flies Again

A vintage B-25 Mitchell bomber flies near the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, April 18, 2010, during a memorial flight honoring the Doolittle Raiders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey)

Battle Of Bulge Anniversary Remembered At Tree Lighting

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., chief of staff of the Army, reads the World War II Christmas letter from Gen. Anthony McAuliffe to his troops during the 13th annual Norwegian Tree Lighting Ceremony in Union Station, Washington D.C., Dec. 3, 2009. The tree is a gift from Norway and a symbol of the friendship between the United States and Norway. DoD photo by Myles Cullen

Read the story here.

Ancient History

With the help of a tour guide, U.S. Army soldiers explore what is thought to be the biblical home of Abraham among ruins discovered near the Great Ziggurat of Ur close to Contingency Operating Base, Adder, Iraq, Nov. 21, 2009.The Sumerians built the Ziggurat of Ur to honor their moon god, Nanna. The soldiers are assigned to the 1st Armored Division's 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army Spc. Shane P.S. Begg

Wright Flyer Replica Crashes

Air Force crash rescue and safety personnel inspect the wreckage of a replica 1905 Wright Flyer III that crashed Oct. 1, 2009 on Huffman Prairie Flying Field at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Pilot and vintage aircraft builder Mark Dusenberry of Dennison, Ohio, was injured during the practice flight in preparation to celebrate the 104th Anniversary of Practical Flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ted Theopolos)

Air Force crash rescue and safety personnel inspect the wreckage of a replica 1905 Wright Flyer III that crashed Oct. 1, 2009 on Huffman Prairie Flying Field at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Pilot and vintage aircraft builder Mark Dusenberry of Dennison, Ohio, was injured during the practice flight in preparation to celebrate the 104th Anniversary of Practical Flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ted Theopolos)

Read the story here.

Cold War ICBM At The U.S. Navy Museum

Cold War ICBM At The U.S. Navy Museum

WASHINGTON (Sept. 9, 2009)

International historians discuss the Trident Intercontinental Ballistic Missile at the Cold War Gallery of the U.S. Navy Museum at the Washington Navy Yard.

Historians from the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Canada are gathered for the biennial Naval History Symposium at the U.S. Naval Academy.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth G. Takada/Released)

Sept. 3, 1939, England At War

Sept. 3, 1939, England At WarCommentary by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

9/4/2009 – ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England (AFNS) — As someone in the business of telling the news, I tend to take for granted the multitude of means we have available to get the word out. Between the Internet, 24-hour news networks, radio and the newspaper, a person can pick how and when they want their news and usually get all the top stories of the moment in the time it takes to drink a cup of morning coffee.

Seventy years ago, however, it was a different story. Breaking news was delivered either by newspaper or the radio, and on this day here in this country, the news was not good.

On the morning of Sept. 3, 1939, the airwaves carried the message, somberly read by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, that England and France were officially at war with Germany.

The broadcast told of Hitler ignoring a demand to withdraw from Poland, which he had invaded two days earlier, and made reference to the obligation of the English to go to the aid of Poland. The voice which carried the message did so with such a sense of remorseful dignity that one can almost feel the pain of Prime Minister Chamberlain as he tells the people of the failure of peace.

It gives me an eerie sense of wonder to think that in the town where my wife and I now live, 70 years ago today families huddled around a radio hearing the words and wondering what they really meant. I can see their faces, wrought with fear, as parents tried to explain to their children what unimaginable hardships were headed their way.

It’s easy to imagine the buzz in the small villages as the word spread to those who hadn’t heard it firsthand. I can picture the men in the local pub in my village talking it out over a pint, perhaps telling stories of the previous war with Germany. I can see in my mind the young men busting with bravado, ready to take up arms and kick Hitler’s Third Reich back to Germany and protect their homeland. I can imagine the wives, daughters, sisters and girlfriends nervously standing by their men, ready to support them however they could as they prepared for war.

I can easily picture all this because I’ve seen it in history books, I’ve walked the streets where it happened and to a degree, I’ve lived it.

Many of us, in a sense, know the feeling. I remember sitting in a small dayroom in Saudi Arabia in 2003 as my buddies and I watched President George W. Bush inform the nation, and the world, of Saddam Hussein’s refusal to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors. We watched intently, hanging on every word and bracing for the news that we were headed to war with a country for the second time.

Relatively speaking, we had it good. We could jump on the computer and watch replays of the reports. We could chat with people from around the world to find out what they thought and share our own opinions. We could pick up the phone and in seconds be connected to our loved ones and just talk about it.

But in 1939, there was no instant radio replay. The prime minister’s words could only reverberate in the ears of those who heard them and fade as a million other thoughts swirled through anxious minds. Neighbors could plan, speculate and console each other, but the world then was a bigger, and suddenly scarier place.

That is a feeling I don’t, and can’t, know. And because I don’t know it, I have to respect it.

The weather in England on Sept. 3, 2009, to me, represents what I imagine the country felt this day 70 years ago. Dark clouds hang over the countryside, and a wicked wind spreads a chill everywhere it touches.

It’s as if the island itself is remembering this day and what it represents in the history of the United Kingdom.

Photo: Outbreak 1939

National Cryptologic Museum

National Cryptologic Museum

Why does the National Cryptologic Museum exist? Because it has to: There is a statue celebrating military heroism at Iwo Jima, but no memorial to the brilliant minds that cracked Japanese codes and turned around the Pacific war at Midway Island.

Every school child learns how the beaches of Normandy were stormed, but few knowledgeable adults know about the intelligence professionals who cracked Hitler’s Enigma cipher and saved millions of lives. Without this unique museum the nation and the world might never know what it truly takes to defend freedom.

The National Cryptologic Museum is no Disneyland. It’s the real stories as told by the intelligence professionals who really know. It’s the stories of those who served in silence but saved the world, many times over.

Read more here.

Ancient Stairway

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Michael Lally, left front, and Col. Dan Hokanson, behind Lally, lead soldiers down steps of the Ziggurat of Ur during a tour outside Camp Adder, Iraq, July 31, 2009. The Ziggurat, one of the greatest historical monuments of ancient civilization, had been part of Camp Adder, but was recently returned to Iraqi control. Lally is commander of the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command and Hokanson is commander of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cory Grog

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Michael Lally, left front, and Col. Dan Hokanson, behind Lally, lead soldiers down steps of the Ziggurat of Ur during a tour outside Camp Adder, Iraq, July 31, 2009. The Ziggurat, one of the greatest historical monuments of ancient civilization, had been part of Camp Adder, but was recently returned to Iraqi control. Lally is commander of the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command and Hokanson is commander of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cory Grog