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The 4th Infantry’s 100 Years Of Warfare Is A History Worth Reading
In the fall of 1917, draftees from around the country came together at Camp Greene, North Carolina to form the newly activated 4th Division. These men went on to fight in the trenches of France for the remainder of the First World War. At the time, they were fighting for their country and each other. What they did not know was that they were the founders of an organization whose lineage would span several more wars, and would continue to serve the country 100 years later.
“To War With The 4th” by Martin King , Mike Collins, and Jason Nulton, traces the lineage of the division from its activation in November 1917 to their recent deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The book is a mixture of a bird’s eye view of the wars from historians and oral history from veterans of the different battles. The authors say in the introduction that their goal is to “depict the details of some of the battles that the 4th Infantry Division were involved in and then leave it to the veterans to tell you what is was really like for those in the field.”
The authors do a wonderful job of mixing the narrative and the stories of veterans. For instance James Platt, a veteran of World War I, recounts his first experience being on the receiving end of an artillery barrage. He writes:
The advance stopped and everyone hunted for a hole. It is an awful experience to lie with only a bit of ground to protect you and hear those shells coming in, and exploding all around. Each shell sounded as if it were aimed at your person. It is a mystery to me how so many shells can fall all around a bunch of men and yet hit so few.
Many of the stories show how these men were able, in true soldierly fashion, to find humor in some of the worst of circumstances. World War I veteran, John Luedke recounted the time his lieutenant lost his right arm to enemy fire, and remarked, “The Boches haven’t got me — I write with my left hand!”
Two 4th Infantry Division Soldiers move deeper into the woods during the Battle of Huertgen Forest. The division fought in the battle from Nov. 6 - Dec. 3, 1944. The Ivy Division suffered more than 4,000 battle casualties during that time.U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William Smith.
During the Battle of Bulge in World War II, John Capell remembered carrying his Christmas dinner back to his foxhole, and having to chisel out the cranberries that had frozen on his short walk.
In Vietnam, Bill French recounted being told that he was going to be stationed at an overseas base with a tennis court so he purchased a tennis racket. His orders were changed at the last minute, and the 4th Infantry Division sent him to a remote outpost instead. He said that he sometimes still hears, “Hey, lieutenant, what are you going to do with that tennis racket?” ringing in his ears. (In case you were wondering, he still has that tennis racket.)
Members of Co. C, 1st Battalion, 8th Inf, 1st Brigade, 4th Inf Div, descend the side of Hill 742, located five miles northwest of Dak To during Operation MacArthur.U.S. Army photo.
Readers will walk away from “To War With The 4th” with a greater appreciation for the level of sacrifices that our sons and daughters have made over the years for our nation. For instance, even before the division reached Europe to fight in 1918, it suffered losses. A German submarine torpedoed and sunk a troopship carrying 56 men.
From July to August 1918, the division took 6,923 casualties. During the Meuse-Argonne offensive, Ivy Soldiers had a one-in-three chance of surviving the conflict. In World War II, their odds were not much better.
The chapters covering World War II recount the division’s participation in D-Day, the breakout, in the horrible fighting that took place in the Hurtgen Forest, and the Battle of the Bulge. As the authors recount the causality figures for these battles, one cannot help but think about the intensity of fighting that took place, and what would be required of our country if we experienced another war on the level of World War I and World War II.
The majority of the book is dedicated to the world wars, with only 50 pages covering Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. While the coverage of these three conflicts is a little light, the appreciation of the continued sacrifices made more recently by America’s sons and daughters still comes across clearly.
Finally, this book is the perfect read for those serving today, in the 4th Infantry Division or in other infantry units. The accounts retold in “To War With The 4th” of the soldiers who once wore the Ivy patch, help those of us serving now connect with our past. As a current member of the 4th, I know their stories can inspire us to train harder, sweat more, and push ourselves a little bit farther to keep alive a 100-year tradition of being steadfast and loyal.
“To War With The 4th” (Casemate, 2016) became available for purchase Oct. 7, 2016.
Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.