Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Medal of Honor.

This is coolbert:

Did NOT hear back from the Medal of Honor Society or Lord Ashcroft either. Inquiring of the former if any American soldier has ever been awarded the MoH upon the recommendation of the enemy. Inquiring of the latter as to the status of Sergeant Durrant. Englishman who won the Victoria Cross [VC], analogous to the MoH, also upon the recommendation of the enemy [three Britishers during World War Two [WW2] were awarded the VC upon recommendation of a German Navy officer].

Of course, devoted readers will understand that queries of this nature are of a hit and miss nature, a person such as Lord Ashcroft generally too busy to respond to such bits of trivia.

Did find, over the weekend, a book devoted to the history of the MoH. "Above and Beyond".

A cursory examination of this book does NOT shed any light whatsoever on the topic of interest to me [recommendation by the enemy]!

On two occasions I did find a topic that caught my attention right away. Awarding of the MoH to high ranking officers who were prisoner-of-war [POW]. Men who, rather than cooperate with the enemy and reveal critical information under torture and duress, attempted to take their own lives instead.

* General William Dean. Senior commander of the 24th Infantry Division, the first U.S. combat ground unit to enter the fray during the Korean War. Suffering [after being separated from his command] a broken shoulder and severe stomach injuries, spent 36 days wandering the Korean countryside alone, seeking to regain friendly lines. Was captured by the North Koreans and subjected to brutal mistreatment.

"His guards stripped him and forced him to sit on the floor of an unheated room in freezing weather. His captors interrogated and propagandized him for days, allowing him no sleep and little food Even though his wounds abscessed, he was refused treatment [just as was John Mc Cain]. Finally, unable to break his spirit, his chief interrogator threatened torture. Dean was already concerned that his captivity gave the Communists a propaganda tool. Now he grew fearful that in his weakened condition he might reveal something under torture. ['might squeal when they started to drive splinters under my fingernails.' He [Dean] had knowledge of the proposed landing at Inchon] He determined that his only way out was to kill himself, and he almost succeeded. Only a faulty bolt in the gun he stole from a sleeping guard prevented his death."

* Commander James Stockdale.

Navy officer, an aviator, shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese during the Second Indo-Chinese War. Possessed information that could have changed around the entire course of the Vietnam War, if revealed to his captors: "On August 4, 1964, Stockdale had flown one of three jets supporting the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy [American destroyer vessels] in the Gulf of Tonkin [this was the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the pretext by which American military forces entered the Vietnam War in a BIG WAY!!] . . . after searching the stormy waters and not finding any enemy ships, Stockdale became convinced that [The Gulf of Tonkin incident] was nothing but a 'Chinese fire drill'"

Chinese fire drill - - "the expression 'Chinese Fire Drill' is the act of a group of individuals accomplishing nothing." - - "a figure of speech to mean any large, ineffective, and chaotic exercise."

When his captives threatened him with torture, Stockdale, resolved that rather than reveal "the most damaging information a North Vietnamese torturer could possibly extract from an American prisoner", Stockdale would take his own life instead!

"Moving to a window, he broke the glass with the heel of his hand grabbed one of the large pieces, and sat down in the center of the room. He quickly chopped at his wrists with the shard, causing blood to ooze all over his arms and onto the floor. Wringing his hand to increase the flow of blood. Stockdale collapsed on the floor as his jailers returned."


One can suggest that if Stockdale had talked and revealed the "secret" concerning the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the course of the Vietnam War would NOT HAVE BEEN dramatically altered. That is all conjecture.

But that these two senior officers were willing to die first rather than cooperate with the enemy even in the most trivial of manner is indeed noble and courageous.

[an American soldier is NOT expected to endure torture or harsh and inhuman treatment unto death! Human limits of endurance are recognized. Under duress, you are NOT expected to be of a super-human nature.]




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