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I think everyone remembers where they were that day

At 6 WTC, the U.S. Custom’s House had a high-security evidence vault that contained dozens of impounded firearms as part of criminal investigations and a portion of these guns are in the 9/11 Museum.

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Vale, Paniku

Vito was a standup guy. One of those charismatic guys who was quick with a joke and a laugh that he delivered so hard that it would buckle him over. A guy’s guy, we always had the best conversations and he was one of the most genuine people that I have ever met. 40 is far, far too young. It goes to prove that the man upstairs comes for the good ones first. The gates of Heaven are well protected and I will have a cigarette for you when I get there.

Rest in peace, Vito.

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

Emily Dickinson, published posthumously.

72 years ago today: Fanaticism in a photo

admiral-ugaki-posing-before-his-final-kamikaze-mission-wwii-15-august-1945Imperial Japanese Navy Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki on 15 August 1945, at age 55, on his last day in the Navy.

Ugaki graduated from the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1912, 9th in his class, and went on to serve the Emperor for the next 33 years including as a junior officer on the battlecruiser Kongō during WWI, service in Germany in the 1920s, passing through the Naval Staff College and serving as the Chief-of-Staff of the Combined Fleet under Yamamoto for the first half of WWII.

Chief of Staff Matome Ugaki (left), Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, liaison staff officer Shigero Fujii, and administrative officer Yasuji Watanabe aboard battleship Nagato, early 1940s

A smiling Chief of Staff Matome Ugaki (left), Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, liaison staff officer Shigero Fujii, and administrative officer Yasuji Watanabe aboard battleship Nagato, early 1940s

Following Yamamoto’s death, Ugaki was given the demotion of commanding the 1st Battleship Division (Nagato, Yamato, Musashi), which largely perished during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944, then was transferred to command the kamikaze forces of the IJN Fifth Air Fleet. Spending the last year of the war cheering on barely trained young pilots as they took off in condemned planes with just enough fuel for a one-way flight.

Speaking of which, the day the Emperor announced  the official cease-fire order on 15 August, Ugaki climbed into the backseat of a Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” (first image above) and led a failed 11-aircraft attack on the U.S. fleet. His remains were found later by Sailors of a U.S. amphibious landing craft along the beach on Iheyajima Island and buried in the sand, the last kamikaze.

Happy Birthday Rupert Brooke!

happy-birthday-rupert-brooke-3-august-1887-23-april-1915-2

The war poet Rubert Brooke has always been a favorite of mine. So much that my daughter carries “Brooke” as her middle name.

He died  23 April 1915, while serving with the Royal Navy in the Aegean Sea, off the island of Skyros, age 27. His body was interred there and remains in a well tended grave.

Brooke’s brother– 2nd Lt. William Alfred Cotterill Brooke– was a member of the 8th Battalion London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) and was killed in action near Le Rutoire Farm on 14 June 1915 aged 24, just three weeks after he made it to the front.

Brooke’s poem, The Charm, as selected, below, courtesy of the Detroit Public Library.

happy-birthday-rupert-brooke-3-august-1887-23-april-1915

A special Combat Gallery Sunday: The original Fighting Irish, on the eve of the Wheatfield, 154 years ago

Absolution Under Fire, By Paul Wood, via the Snite Museum of Art Notre Dame. Note the drummer boys in distinctive Zouave uniforms and the famous green harp flag. Click to bigup

On July 2nd 1863, minutes before the Irish Brigade would charge the Wheatfield at Gettysburg, Father William Corby gave absolution to the men. Corby would later become President of Notre Dame University and the following quote from Col. St. Clair Mulholland comes from their web page on Corby:

Colonel St. Clair Mulholland was attached with the Irish Brigade and later gave this account of Corby’s famous absolution [Originally published in the Philadelphia Times, reprinted in Scholastic, April 3, 1880, pages 470-471]:

There is yet a few minutes to spare before starting, and the time is occupied in one of the most impressive religious ceremonies I have ever witnessed. The Irish Brigade, which had been commanded formerly by General Thomas Francis Meagher, and whose green flag had been unfurled in every battle in which the Army of the Potomac had been engaged from the first Bull Run to Appomattox, was now commanded by Colonel Patrick Kelly, of the Eighty-eighth New York, and formed a part of this division. The brigade stood in columns of regiments closed in mass. As the large majority of its members were Catholics, the Chaplain of the brigade Rev. William Corby, CSC, proposed to give a general absolution to all the men before going into the fight. While this is customary in the armies of Catholic countries of Europe, it was perhaps the first time it was ever witnessed on this continent… Father Corby stood upon a large rock in front of the brigade, addressing the men; he explained what he was about to do, saying that each one would receive the benefit of the absolution by making a sincere Act of Contrition, and firmly resolving to embrace the first opportunity of confessing his sins, urging them to do their duty well, and reminding them of the high and sacred nature of their trust as soldiers and the noble object for which they fought. The brigade was standing at “Order arms,” and as he closed his address, every man fell on his knees, with head bowed down. Then, stretching his right hand towards the brigade, Father Corby pronounced the words of absolution. The scene was more than impressive, it was awe-inspiring. Near by, stood General Hancock, surrounded by a brilliant throng of officers, who had gathered to witness this very unusual occurrence and while there was profound silence in the ranks of the Second Corps, yet over to the left, out by the peach orchard and Little Round Top, where Weed, and Vincent, and Haslett were dying, the roar of the battle rose and swelled and reechoed through the woods. The act seemed to be in harmony with all the surroundings. I do not think there was a man in the brigade who did not offer up a heartfelt prayer. For some it was their last; they knelt there in their grave-clothes — in less than half an hour many of them were numbered with the dead of July 2.

 

A relic with the ability to induce a shudder

Object 19880274-001, Canadian War Museum http://www.warmuseum.ca/collections/artifact/1042602/

This early Colt M1911 was used by an individual with the 27th Infantry Battalion (City of Winnipeg), Canadian Expeditionary Force, during the First World War.

If you note, there is a bullet or shrapnel hole from the right penetrating the left-hand side of the grip, meaning if the pistol was in a holster or hand, the owner likely had a very bad experience somewhere on the Western Front.

Canada placed orders for a total of 5,000 Colt Government Model pistols between August and October 1914, with officers, senior NCOs and machine gunners of early units heading to France so equipped with these .45ACP Connecticut-made guns.

The 27th Winnipeg was authorized on 7 November 1914 and disembarked in France as a fully trained and equipped unit on 18 September 1915, just in time to head to the front for the meat-grinder that was Somme the next year.

Close to 61,000 Canadians were killed during the war, and another 172,000 were wounded.

The 27th and a dozen other Manitoba-area Great War battalions are perpetuated today as the “Little Black Devils” of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles (R Wpg Rif).

Vale, Fitzgerald

Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, answers questions about the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) during a press conference at Fleet Activities Yokosuka.

The list of the fallen are from the Gulf Coast, the East Coast, the West Coast and the Midwest. Going on their names, they encompass numerous ethic backgrounds, all part of the national melting pot. One is a teenager, a striker. Another is a 37-year old PO1, likely well into his second decade of service. There are combat rates, CIC personnel, clerks.

All are American, and volunteered for the service, showing the persistent dangers of sea duty even in today’s environment–  reportedly stricken in a horrific collision and resulting flooding of their berthing spaces while in the slumber of the predawn hours.

The U.S. Navy Identifies 7 Deceased Fitzgerald Sailors

The remains of seven Sailors previously reported missing were located in flooded berthing compartments, after divers gained access to the spaces, June 18, that were damaged when USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal.

The deceased are:

– Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia

– Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California

– Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut

– Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas

– Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California

– Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland

– Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio

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