Together We Served has reconnected more military veterans than any other organization or website. If you served in any branch of the US military, stay connected with those you served with by joining TogetherWeServed.com.
Note From the Editor
From all of us here at Together We Served, I hope you're having a relaxing summer and are beating the heat.
In this month's Dispatches, we wanted to celebrate the end of the Forgotten War by telling some stories about the Korean War, which include the story of Medal of Honor recipient Dan D. Schoonover, who was awarded the medal for his assault on Pork Chop Hill. We also tell the story about American beer legends Schlitz and Blatz and how they brought beer to Korea when the government decided not to give the troops beer rations.
We also jump into some Civil War history, specifically the Battle of Mobile Bay and the origin of the famous line, "Damn the torpedoes!" We have also included a trip down memory lane for some of us, recalling some of the important meals that made U.S. military chow halls (in)famous.
In Military Myths and Legends this month, we talk about America's best aerial warrior ever and why American airmen grow their mustaches out for him every March. Finally, we review a book by a longtime Coast Guard veteran who details what happens when our beloved Coasties spend too much time away from the rest of us.
Is there a military legend you want us to tackle? A story you want to look into? If you have any suggestions on topics or comments on stories, send me a message at Blake.Stilwell@togetherweserved.com.
Please send all the information for Bulletin Board Posts, Reunion Announcements, and Association News to Admin@togetherweserved.com.
SSgt Blake Stilwell
1/ Profiles in Courage: Cpl Dan D. Schoonover
2/ Claim Your Free Military Service Mini-Plaque!
3/ Battlefield Chronicles: The Battle of Mobile Bay
4/ Preserve Your Old Photos: Let Us Help for Free!
5/ Military Myths & Legends: Mustache March
6/ Do You Still Have Your Boot Camp/Basic Training Photo?
7/ Distinguished Military Unit: 6th Special Operations Squadron (Commando)
8/ Have A Military Reunion Coming Soon?
9/ When the Army Stopped Service Beer, American Beer Barons Bought a Round for Freedom
10/ TWS Locator Service
11/ Six Bygone Chow Hall Classics That Helped Shape the US Military
12/ Book Review: What Rotten EGGS
13/ It's Not My Battle
14/ TWS Bulletin Board
Profiles In Courage: Cpl Dan D. Schoonover
Pork Chop Hill is one of the most infamous battle sites of the Korean War. A communist force met an equal number of United Nations troops twice in the spring and summer of 1953. They fought over a North Korean hill that, in retrospect, had little strategic value.
Whether the hill was essential to the overall war effort or not, the American and United Nations troops who fought for the position did so with courage and valor, the way they would attack any objective. One of those soldiers, a corporal from Hawaii, was a one-man anti-communist wrecking crew.
The truth about Pork Chop Hill is that the two sides had been fighting over the North Korean hill for almost the entirety of the Korean War. After the front stabilized in the aftermath of China's intervention in the war, UN forces took the initiative during the "stalemate" period in 1951.
After the U.S. 8th Cavalry Regiment captured the hill in October 1951, it was recaptured by the communists, only to be retaken by the UN in May 1952. Pork Chop Hill became part of the UN's main line of resistance north of the 38th parallel and was defended by the U.S. 7th Infantry Division for much of the rest of the war.
Despite its importance, some of China's best soldiers would attack the hill to wrestle it away from the Americans. Under Chinese Gen. Deng Hua, the communists assaulted the hill on two separate occasions in 1953, making Pork Chop Hill a valuable bargaining point in the ongoing armistice negotiations.
On April 16, 1953, the Chinese People's Volunteer Army launched an artillery barrage that caught the UN forces by surprise as Colombian troops were taking over its defense from the Americans. The UN defenders suffered heavy losses, as did the attempted UN counterattack.
In that first battle over Pork Chop Hill, the Americans fired 40,000 artillery rounds and launched nighttime assaults during moonless nights to dislodge the communists. It was a melee of grenades, flamethrowers, and hand-to-hand combat that lasted three days. The Americans cleared the hill, but at a high cost. The second battle would be just as brutal.
By July 6, 1953, the fighting along the line of resistance entered a lull as both sides expected an armistice at any time. That night, the Chinese PVA launched an identical assault to the one launched two months prior.
Under a thunderstorm of artillery fire from both sides, the attackers and defenders of Pork Chop Hill fought a vicious, up-close-and-personal battle for control. Among those defenders was U.S. Army Cpl. Dan D. Schoonover.
Schoonover was the leader of an engineer demolition squad attached to the 7th Infantry Division. When the division was tasked to dislodge the communists from their advancements on Pork Chop Hill, Schoonover and his engineers took up arms as a rifle company and immediately got to work.
On July 10, his squad advanced on the hill across steep terrain with little tree cover and began assaulting enemy bunkers that held up their advance. Cpl. Schoonover led his men up that hill. After an artillery round exploded over an enemy-held bunker, he jumped into the bunker, killing one defender and taking another one prisoner.
As they advanced, they came upon another entrenched position. They found themselves pinned down once more before Schoonover ran through the blaze of bullets in no man's land, tossed his grenades into the nearest bunker, and ran inside with just his pistol, clearing the bunker of enemy troops.
His men advanced to the top of Pork Chop Hill, only to meet the enemy's full counterattack. Under a barrage of artillery fire, Schoonover directed his men to hold off the enemy assault while directing UN artillery on the hilltop. His direction allowed the Americans to hold the hill overnight.
When morning came, his men were relieved, but Schoonover stayed behind to man a machine gun as the enemy counterattacked once more. When it came time for the Americans to push back, Schoonover joined that assault too. The last time he was seen alive, Schoonover was single-handedly pushing back a communist assault with an automatic rifle.
No matter what the importance of Pork Chop Hill was, Cpl. Dan D. Schoonover led his men in retaking the hill and stayed at his post for two days while beating the enemy back. He didn't live to see the recapture of the hill for UN forces or the armistice that ended the war on July 27, 1953.
Schoonover was awarded the Medal of Honor for his leadership and action under fire. He is interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.
Claim Your Free Military Service Plaque!
Have you claimed your FREE Military Service Plaque yet? This attractive custom presentation, which can be accessed via the 'Plaque" button on your Profile Page, contains a visual summary of your military service including service photo, ribbon rack, badges, primary unit patch, and sleeve insignia.
Your plaque is very versatile. It can be printed out as an 11"x 6" landscape print and framed. You can also upload your Plaque to your cellphone which is perfectly sized to display as a convenient Veteran ID or printed out as a business card.
Login to Together We Served today to view your FREE Military Service Plaque and add any information needed to complete.
Battlefield Chronicles: The Battle of Mobile Bay
From the very beginning of the Civil War, the Union knew its best chance for victory lay in cutting the Confederacy off from the rest of the world. To achieve that objective, it had to ensure a total blockade of southern ports, assume control of the entire Mississippi River and cut the Confederacy in two.
The Union Navy's 1864 victory at the Battle of Mobile Bay denied the Confederate States port access in the Gulf of Mexico and gave the Union control of the region. Combined with Gen. William T. Sherman's capture of Atlanta and subsequent March to the Sea, it was critical in securing the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln.
With southern trade cut off from global markets and a commander-in-chief determined to win the Civil War by force, the Battle of Mobile Bay was the nail in the coffin for the Confederate States of America. But it only happened through an act of daring in the face of certain death.
In 1864, Mobile, Alabama, was the last Confederate port city on the Gulf of Mexico still in rebel hands. Its natural harbor and deepwater port made it an obvious target for a combined Union assault, as it was the only port that could trade with Caribbean countries.
The Confederates began beefing up the port's defenses after the 1862 fall of New Orleans and the 1863 fall of Vicksburg in Tennessee. Mobile Bay was a critical lifeline for blockade runners still trading cotton and other southern products.
Mobile Bay's defenses consisted of three main forts: Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines guarded the entrance to the bay, while smaller Fort Powell guarded a channel into the area. With 90 guns defending the area, it seemed like a strong fortification, but there were critical flaws. Forts Morgan and Gaines were cut off from the mainland, and none of the forts were protected from the rear.
The bay entrance was heavily mined to make the guns more effective. Dozens of naval mines - then known as "torpedoes" - were clearly marked with buoys so that ships making the journey in and out of the harbor would have to sail under the 46 guns at Fort Morgan. Also in the bay were three Confederate gunboats and one rebel ironclad, the CSS Tennessee.
Union Rear Admiral David Farragut, a lifelong naval officer, was tasked with planning the attack on Mobile Bay. He knew the defenses of the port city well enough, including its massive naval minefield. It was Farragut who had taken many of the south's Gulf port cities, including New Orleans. Mobile Bay would be just one more.
Farragut had 18 ships under his command. Fourteen were wooden-hulled ships; four were new, iron-armored monitor-type warships. He had 5,500 men to capture the forts and their 1,500 rebel defenders. Admiral Farragut set the Union Army ashore to attack For Gaines on August 3, 1864. On August 5, he gave the go-ahead to start the battle.
The attack was to be in two columns. The ironclad would form the first column, pushing to starboard, closer to the guns of Fort Morgan as they passed through the hole in the minefield. The second column, the wooden ships, would pass through the gap in the mines on the port side of the ironclads, letting the armored ships form a shield for their wooden counterparts.
When the CSS Tennessee came to the battle, the four Union iron ships would attack it, as the rest of the fleet attacked the rebel gunboats. That was the plan.
With the wind in his favor and his ironclads in the lead, the first Union naval column steamed into the bay. The Confederate boats were situated just beyond the minefield, and when the ironclad USS Tecumseh fired the opening shot, the battle was on.
Almost immediately, the Tecumseh drifted into the minefield and was taken down by one of the torpedoes, sinking the ship within minutes.
The unexplained actions of the Tecumseh caused confusion among the wooden ships, who now had conflicting orders: staying to the port side of Tecumseh meant going into the mines. The commander of the USS Brooklyn stopped his ship mid-battle and signaled for orders from Farragut.
Further back in the wooden-hulled column, aboard his flagship, the USS Hartford, Farragut was not about to stop his engines. He gave his now-famous order to Capt. Percival Drayton: "Damn the torpedoes! Four bells. Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed!"
The Hartford went around the USS Brooklyn and took the lead but had to drift into the minefield to do it. Admiral Farragut believed that most of the mines had been underwater for too long to be effective and took his column in - he was right. The ships passed safely through the torpedoes and pressed their attack.
Safely out of range of the forts' guns, the wooden-hulled Union ships began attacking the rebel gunboats. Meanwhile, the CSS Tennessee went straight for the entire Union fleet by itself. Unable to penetrate the rebel ironclad's armor, the Federal ships began ramming the Tennessee, which was also ineffective. The Tennessee might have inflicted heavy damage to the Union ships, but its powder was shoddy and ineffective.
By the time Union ironclads arrived to the fighting, Tennessee was nearly adrift. Its smokestack was shot away, its rudder damaged, and its boilers useless; it became a sitting duck. Union ships fired on the Tennessee until the armor began to shatter its timbers underneath. Finally, three hours into the battle, Tennessee surrendered.
With the Confederate ships neutralized, the Union began firing on the forts from their unprotected rear. Fort Powell surrendered first, the Fort Gaines Surrendered on August 8. Fort Morgan held out much longer but was eventually faced with the reality that no help could reach them and surrendered on August 23, 1864.
With 150 dead and 170 wounded, it was a relatively small price to pay for Union control of the Gulf of Mexico. The city of Mobile itself was not captured, but it didn't need to be. The Confederates kept critical forces there that might otherwise have been sent against Sherman in Atlanta.
The psychological impact of the loss of Mobile Bay, along with Sherman's success and the reelection of Abraham Lincoln, changed the national mood in the north. The Civil War was all but won for the Union, thanks to a little bravado on behalf of one of the U.S. Navy's most legendary figures.
Preserve Your Old Photos: Let Us Help for Free!
Do you have old photos from your service days stashed away in a drawer or in a shoe box in your attic? Old photos fade with time and if they are not scanned and preserved digitally, they risk eventually being lost forever.
This is where TWS can help. We have just invested in a high quality Fujitsu book and photo scanner that can scan any size of photo or yearbook. As a service to our members, we would like to offer you a free photo scanning service for your most significant photos from your service which we will then return to you, in original condition, along with a CD containing your photo files.
In addition, we can upload your photos for you to your Photo Album on your TWS Service Profile which will also appear in your Shadow box and available to you to access or download at any time.
Every November for the past few years, more and more American men are adopting the custom of growing out their mustaches to raise awareness about men's health issues. "Movember," as it's come to be called, raises awareness on such topics as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men's suicide.
The men of the United States Air Force adopted a similar custom, except theirs comes in March and for a very different reason. "Mustache March" is a military tradition to honor one man: fighter pilot, World War II triple-ace, and Vietnam War legend Robin Olds.
Robin Olds was, without a doubt, one of America's greatest fighter pilots. He was the son of an Army Air Corps captain who hung out with a virtual who's who of Air Force legends: Billy Mitchell, Hap Arnold, Carl Spaatz, and Eddie Rickenbacker, just to name a few.
When Olds came of age, he attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (where he played football) and graduated just in time to enter World War II behind the stick of his P-38J Lightning. He was Maj. Robin Olds with 13 kills and a squadron commander before age 23.
By the time the war in Vietnam rolled around, Olds was a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, having made the jump when the Air Force became a separate branch in 1947. He deployed to Southeast Asia as commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, nicknamed "the Wolfpack," at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base.
Olds was rubbed the wrong way by what he saw as an Air Force dominated by World War II bomber pilots who neglected fighters at their own peril. He was hamstrung by restrictions on tactics, was constantly asking for training and better fighters, and was put off by the public relations aspect of the war.
In 1965, Olds began growing out what he dubbed his "bulletproof" mustache. According to his biography, it was a figurative middle finger to the news media and his uncaring superiors that he wore unapologetically in Southeast Asia.
"Generals visiting Vietnam would kind of laugh at the mustache," Olds once said. "I was far away from home. It was a gesture of defiance. The kids on base loved it. Most everybody grew a mustache."
It was one legend that lived up to the mythos. Olds was restricted to flying 100 missions over Vietnam but certainly flew more. He also only claimed four air-to-air kills against the North Vietnamese Air Force but purposely stopped short of being an ace - the Air Force would take away his command for fear of losing him in combat.
To be clear, he definitely shot down more than four enemy fighters in Vietnam but only claimed four.
His biggest coup came in 1967 when he devised a way to fool communist fighters into believing they would be intercepting a group of slower, less maneuverable F-105 Thunderchief bombers. Using a massive fleet of F-4 Phantoms, Operation Bolo used electronic warfare pods to fool enemy ground radar into seeing what they believed were F-105s.
When North Vietnamese MiGs scrambled to intercept them, all they found were Olds and his Wolfpack flying F-4 Phantoms. Olds and his squadrons downed seven enemy aircraft that day, proving the superiority of American air power.
When Olds was promoted and reassigned to the Air Force Academy in 1968, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John McConnell stuck his finger on the 'stache and ordered Olds to "take it off." It was the end of Olds' mustache, but inspired airmen have been growing their own "bulletproof" facial hair in his honor ever since.
Do You Still Have Your Boot Camp/Basic Training Photo?
Together We Served has a growing archive of more than 23,000 Boot Camp/ Basic Training Graduation Photos which we now display on your Military Service Page and Shadow Box. We also have a growing collection of Yearbooks which we will be made available on the site shortly.
We are still searching for Boot Camp/ Basic Training Photos and Yearbooks. So if you have yours available, please contact us at Admin@togetherweserved.com.
Either you can send us a scanned file of your photo or you can send it to us for scanning. We will add this for you to the Recruit/ Officer Training section of your Military Service Page.
All photos and yearbooks will be returned to you in the original condition along with a CD containing your scanned photo.
Distinguished Military Unit: 6th Special Operations Squadron (Commando)
By Kevin Konczak
To those not deeply immersed in US Air Force operations, the 6th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) may appear a bit of an enigma as Commando is most often associated with ground units. The squadron's title actually derives from roots reaching back to WWII together with hard-fought experience, all leading to a mission that's responsive to contemporary, global needs. Constituted initially as a fighter squadron, the 6th SOS acquired broad skills extending through Vietnam and beyond, keying on counterinsurgency, special operations, and international advisory assignments. Armed with exhaustive training and comprehensive combat aircraft experience, the primary role of the 6th Special Operations Squadron is to assess, train, advise and assist foreign aviation forces in the use of their aircraft throughout the world. Though initially developed and honed in the chaos of a world at war, the unique skill sets provided by the 6th Special Operations Squadron are particularly relevant for counter-terrorism.
On December 23, 1941, Japanese warplanes attacked the Burmese port of Rangoon. Not long afterward, the Japanese 15th Army began its attempted conquest of Burma (now known as Myanmar), and by March 8, 1942, the city of Rangoon was abandoned with British troops in full retreat back to India. The speed of the Japanese advance stunned the Allies, and very soon, all British and American troops were forced out of Burma. In doing so, the Burma Road, a primary supply route, was cut, and if not for an airlift known as flying the hump could have forced the fall of China. But local geography and Japanese battle tactics compelled British Colonel Charles Wingate to propose fighting the Japanese with hit and run tactics. Using lightly armed Long-Range Penetration (LRP) groups operating far behind enemy lines, these forces would need to be supplied by air with any need for transport and additional firepower. To accomplish this, an assortment of aircraft and pilots were assembled as the 5318th Provisional unit (Air), including C-47 Transports, B-25 Mitchell Bombers, C-64 Norseman, Waco Gliders, P-47, and P-51 fighters, and even the new YR-4 Sikorski helicopter. On March 5, 1944, the first major joint operation began. Code-named "Operation Thursday," it would test the ability of diverse air and ground elements to work as one. Later that same month, the 5318th Provisional Unit (Air) was redesignated the 1st Air Commando Group; the term Commando intended to engage with Lord Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander in the Southeast Asia Theater and one-time commander of British Commando forces. The fledgling unit quickly adopted the motto "Any Place, Any Time, Any Where," still used today in the Air Commando and Special Operations community.
On September 22, 1944, the unit which would eventually become the 6th SOS was constituted as the 6th Fighter Squadron (Commando) and attached to the 1st Air Commando Group. Flying the P-47 Thunderbolt out of Asansol, Fenny, and Cox's Bazaar, India, the squadron flew close air-ground support. It provided cover for air transport and resupply missions, bombing raids, troop insertion, and extraction. In May 1945, the unit converted to the P-51 Mustang and continued flying missions until returning home for deactivation in November 1945 alongside other Air Commando units.
In response to escalating demands of Vietnam, the unit was reconstituted at Hurlburt Field, Florida, on April 27, 1962, as the 6th Fighter Squadron (Commando) and once again assigned to the 1st Air Commando Group. However, the unit's mission for this incarnation was to train in counterinsurgency (COIN) and unconventional warfare, demonstrating those tactics domestically and abroad. Initially flying a variety of aircraft, including the B/RB-26, U-10 Courier (an unsung hero of Vietnam), and T-28, by early 1963, the squadron adopted the A-1E Skyraider. Serving as advisors to Vietnamese Air Force personnel at Bien Hoa, other squadron personnel trained Central and South American airmen in counterinsurgency tactics, techniques, and procedures. Still, others transferred to form the cadres for new special operations units. By March 1964, the squadron increased manning and deployed to Udorn Air Base, Thailand, to continue training air and ground crews in counterinsurgency operations.
However, by 1968 the tide of war in Vietnam weighed heavily against US forces, punctuated by the Tet Offensive and an ensuing record-high US troop count. To address escalating resource demands, the squadron deployed to Pleiku Air Base, Vietnam, in February 1968 and began flying combat missions in March, including close air support for ground forces, air cover for transports flying Operation Ranch Hand missions, day and night interdiction missions, combat search and rescue support, armed reconnaissance, and forward air control missions. The unit was attached to the 633d Special Operations Wing at Pleiku in July. The same day the unit was renamed the 6th Special Operations Squadron (Commando). During its twenty-one-month tour in Vietnam, the unit earned a Presidential Unit Citation and two Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" Device. It was inactivated in Operation Keystone Cardinal, the first reduction in US combat air forces in South Vietnam. For the 6th SOS, this enabled the squadron to relocate to England to pursue its earlier training and advisory mission, primarily for Southeast Asia. Redesignated as the 6th Special Operations Training Squadron, by October 1994, the unit had grown and was renamed the 6th Special Operations Squadron once again. Since the squadron has built on their combat and counterinsurgency experience, expanding their advisory role to help US-allied forces employ and sustain their own airpower resources and, when necessary, integrate those resources into joint and multi-national operations.
The 6th Special Operations Squadron (Commando) is now an Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) unit, a combat aviation advisory detachment that specializes in Foreign Internal Defense (FID) operations. Its mission is to assess, train, advise and assist foreign aviation forces in airpower employment, sustainment, and force integration. A principal mission objective in all operating arenas is facilitating the availability, reliability, safety, and interoperability of participating foreign aviation resources supporting joint and combined operations. The squadron can also function in a direct-execution role. These airpower training and advisory capabilities are extremely relevant in the Global War on Terror, particularly in cases when US forces have to fight as coalition partners or when allied forces have to carry the tactical initiative with US training and advisory assistance. The squadron has a strength of approximately 105 people.
Personnel assigned to the 6th SOS are all required to complete a demanding training and education curriculum intended to produce foreign language proficient, regionally oriented, politically astute, and culturally aware aviation advisory experts. The curriculum provides extensive indoctrination in advanced fieldcraft skills (including force protection and personal survival), instructional skills, risk management, and safety. Squadron advisors, representing 32 separate Air Force Specialty Codes, speak a variety of languages, including Russian, Polish, German, Korean, Arabic, Spanish, French, and Thai. Advisers are trained to fly dozens of aircraft, including all models of the US Huey helicopter, Russian Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters (outfitted with "fast ropes" to allow soldiers to descend anywhere from 10 to 90 feet to the ground), the Thai PC-6 Peacemaker, the Jordanian Longsword-AT-802, the Afghan PC-12, and several C-130 models. The 6th SOS has the freedom to modify aircraft to suit the mission without having to go through an arduous approval process.
According to retired Master Sgt. Travis Peterson, "The 6th has always been this, almost a bastard child of the services, because nobody really knows what we do. The men and women of the 6th SOS live by a long list of 'coyote rules': If you run with the pack, play by pack rules but keep your options open. If you're in a fair fight, you didn't plan it properly. When you hunt alone, stealth is your best hope."
Squadron personnel are currently operating in AFRICOM, CENTCOM, EUCOM, PACOM, and SOUTHCOM. Air Commandos from the 6th SOS usually deploy as Operational Aviation Detachments A and B (OAD-A/B). An OAD-A consists of a 13-man training/advisory team of combat aviation advisors, while the OAD-B provides command, admin, logistics, and medical support to multiple deployed OAD-As. Between 2002 and 2019, squadron OADs deployed to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Mauritania, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Tunisia, Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Poland, Hungary, and Romania.
The 6th Special Operations Squadron (Commando) is by all measures an effective fighting force that has claimed its place on the world stage. From its earliest years in a combat role the men and women of the 6th SOS have fought with distinction, but more, have demonstrated mastery of those skills necessary in leading others to excel. By doing so, bonds are forged that can transcend the mission, a code rooted in mutual trust, respect, and shared values.
Since the US left Afghanistan in August 2021, the stress of knowing former allies are being hunted has taken a toll on many veterans' mental health, especially those in special operations who worked closely with Afghan commandos. A price unexpectedly but undeniably paid by these men and women, many are continuing to work to save their friends long after the withdrawal.
Have A Military Reunion Coming Soon?
TWS has nearly 2 million members who served in a wide range of units, ships, squadrons and duty stations. Get more people to your Reunion by sending your Reunion information to us in the following format and we will post it for free in our Reunion Announcements on Together We Served, in emails that go to our members and in our Newsletters.
Service Branch Reunion Applies To:
Your Reunion Name:
Associated Unit or Association:
Place Where Held:
Contact Phone Number:
Contact Email Address:
When the Army Stopped Serving Beer, American Beer Barons Bought a Round for Freedom
When North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, the U.S. military was doing everything it could to stop the communists from pushing the defenders into the Sea of Japan. They formed a defensive perimeter around Pusan (called Busan today) and made a desperate stand against the North Korean offensive.
The Americans and South Koreans did not fare well in the first months of the war, but the tide turned in September of that year when the United States launched a daring, surprise landing behind enemy lines at Incheon. The North Koreans were caught entirely off-guard. The communist front fell apart as American and South Korean troops broke out of Pusan and began to push the invaders north.
Then, even more, devastating news: the U.S. military announced it would not provide beer rations for the men fighting the war in Korea.
Beer brewing during World War II saved the beer industry. During World War I, anti-alcohol crusaders launched a campaign to label beer makers in America, many of whom were German immigrants, as anti-American and wasters of U.S. resources. It helped the passage of the 18th Amendment, which banned the manufacture and import of alcoholic beverages.
After Prohibition was repealed, breweries returned to doing what they knew best, but the industry was still on shaky ground. Then World War II broke out, and the U.S. government saw beer as what we would today call a "force multiplier." It declared beer production an essential wartime industry, with 15% of its output reserved for the military.
When the Korean War started, some of the old "dry" politicians and activists were still around, fighting against the evils of alcohol. The teetotalers somehow managed to convince the Department of Defense that troops could do without the two-beer ration. When the news hit the headlines, it sparked a nationwide debate.
A U.S. representative, Democrat Andrew J. Biemiller, who represented Milwaukee, demanded on the House floor that the Army explain its rationale for cutting off its soldiers' taps. He argued that beer could be used in place of water when necessary and had "as much alcohol as a good pudding."
While the war raged in Korea, the war at home between beer lovers and anti-alcohol groups like the Woman's Christian Temperance Union was fought to keep beer out of the hands of the GIs. Then, a couple of brewing heavyweights escalated the conflict.
Milwaukee's own Jos. Schlitz Brewing Company and Blatz Brewing Company offered to buy the troops a round and see what might happen. The companies volunteered 600,000 cans or bottles (apiece) of their products to be sent to the Korean Peninsula and handed out to the Americans fighting there.
It's hard to argue with American companies offering to get 1.2 million beers to a fight without using taxpayer money. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union would have a hard time competing with that offer. Army Secretary Frank Pace agreed to the donation, so long as the beer was less than 3.2% alcohol by volume.
The first cans of Schlitz, which was America's top beer at the time, rolled away from Milwaukee on Sept. 28, 1950. Blatz wasn't far behind, shipping theirs out on Oct. 4, 1950. The beer made it to the troops in time for Christmas.
TWS Locator Service
Available for Together We Served members only! Together We Served has two hard-working Marines devoting their time and energy to help our members find long-lost friends who are not yet members of our Together We Served.
If you are looking for someone, email us at email@example.com with name, approximate age, where they were from, last known address, marital status, and name of spouse. We'll do our best!
Six Bygone Chow Hall Classics That Helped Shape the US Military
If an army runs on its stomach, the U.S. military is not only a well-fueled machine, it also has some very firm opinions about what fuel it gets, how the fuel is prepared, and whether Tabasco sauce comes in the fuel pouch.
Life wasn't always jalapeño cheddar packets and chocolate fountains in the Air Force dining facility. In the days before chicken tenders, American troops had it much, much rougher at mealtime. Some of the food that came from U.S. mess halls is still remembered (and sometimes reviled) even 50 years later.
Still, even the most notorious meals helped shape the armed forces, their culture, and, in many ways, the United States itself. Here are just a handful of those classics.
1. Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast
The most famous and notorious of all chow hall staples during the 20th century, creamed chipped beef has gone by many names since it first appeared in the 1945 Manual for Navy Cooks. It has as many fans as it has critics, but even those who love it will still refer to its original nickname, "Sh-- on a Shingle."
Today, the recipe calls for lean ground beef instead of dried lunch meat beef, but the simple white sauce is essentially the same milk and fat cream mix, thickened with flour. If you don't believe that some people loved this dish and still do to this day, just know you can buy it on Amazon.
2. Pepper Pot Soup
U.S. troops who served in Vietnam might be familiar with this mild version of an old spicy vegetable soup classic. The Pepper Pot Soup they knew in Southeast Asia, however, was actually pretty different from the first versions the Army made, which came during the Revolutionary War.
While Gen. George Washington was camped at Valley Forge in 1777, his baker was Christopher Ludwick. He had a lot of experience with desperation, baking for the Austrian Army during the 1742 Siege of Prague and later for the English Royal Navy. He knew how to stretch rations and make something improvised seem more palatable.
At Valley Forge, Ludwick scrounged for old potatoes, old meat, and whatever vegetables were around to make a soup that could be boiled and made healthy again. To cover the taste of the old stew, he used hot peppers and black peppercorns. "The Pepper Pot" reinvigorated the Continentals and entered the Army field manual for the next 200 years.
3. Cornmeal Mush
Cornmeal Mush might be the most American dish of all time. Early settlers learned to make it from native tribes, who used it for both breakfast and dinner meals. It's so easy to make while being filling and adaptable. It's no wonder cornmeal mush was a staple of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and World War I.
By WWI, Army cooks were boiling it and serving it with butter and evaporated milk. Previous versions of the dish included dried, and fried strips of mush smothered in maple syrup, bowls of it served with sausage gravy or simply with butter and salt.
During the Plains Wars of the last half of the 19th century, American troops had to cover vast distances with smaller numbers, often bringing with them only what they and their horses could carry. When the difference between life and death often meant the ability to return fire, those troops understandably opted to carry more ammunition than food. After all, you can forage for food. Bullets were a lot more difficult to scrounge up.
Pemmican, also known as "jerky," was the Army's solution. It required troops to cut the fat off of meat, melt it while pulverizing it, then add dried fruit and the melted fat back to the meat before forming it into cakes and drying it in the sun. It kept for a long time and had the added benefit of not requiring a cooking fire that might give away their position to hostile forces.
Slumgullion, or simply "slum," was the nickname given to any number of Army cooks' unofficial stew recipes during World War I. There are no official recipes for how to make it, but the doughboy cooks of the Great War knew how to use every bit of food available and just how much to water it down to make it last. It often contained beef, onions, and canned tomatoes, along with whatever spices and seasonings were free for the taking.
The upsides of slumgullion were that it was always hot, and it always did the job of providing nutrients. Most of the time, there was also plenty of it to go around. These days, you might see slumgullion as a pasta dish, a "leftovers" stew, or even "American Goulash." All you really need to know is that it's forbidden to eat slum with your bayonet.
6. Salt Pork and Hardtack
If you needed to feed a lot of people for a long time, it was always a good idea to keep your rations from spoiling or going stale. Salt pork was the answer to this problem during the Civil War. And it was just like it sounds: pork preserved in salt. It had to be soaked in freshwater before it became anything close to edible.
The easiest way to keep the bread from going bad was to thicken it and cook it until it was so hard that it too needed to be soaked in water before eating. That's not a joke: That's what troops had to do. There's a reason the hardtack - also known as ship's biscuit in the Navy - was called "sheet iron."
Salt pork and hardtack bread was a staple of the U.S. military for most of the 19th century until they went away after the Spanish-American War. Probably the best things about it were that it was guaranteed not to kill you (a problem with a lot of foods) and that it allowed for a lot of improvisation. You could prepare the pork with whatever could be found, while hardtack was often turned to "sloosh" - bread soaked in milk with fruit.
Book Review: What Rotten EGGS
by Daniel M. White
During World War II, the Coast Guard built its LORAN, or long-range navigation systems, a network of land-based transmitting stations that would give military ships and aircraft a means of accurately navigating to their destinations.
After the war, the LORAN became the primary means by which the entire world navigated the oceans. LORAN stations were built wherever there was local support for them, but those who worked at these remote locations often found themselves far from home, isolated, and lonesome.
The LORAN on Iwo Jima was operated by the Coast Guard from World War II until it was taken over by the Japanese government in 1994. Coast Guard veteran Daniel M. White's book “What Rotten EGGS” is a fictional work based on true stories about USCG LORAN during the period after the Second World War.
The book follows a Coast Guard Lieutenant as he begins a tour as the new commanding officer of the LORAN Station on Iwo Jima, Japan. While he wasn't sure what to expect on the remote and desolate island, he never could have predicted the weird happenings and the challenges he would face.
In just his first week of command, one crew member went insane, another threatened to knife him in his sleep, and the third tried to sail off the island in an oil drum raft, attempting to make the 700-mile journey to Tokyo.
The new commander was also woken at 0400 on his first Saturday night to handle a sailor that was threatening to kill people in the bar. He got the situation under control but came close to getting blasted with a sawed-off shotgun.
When the base doctor gets seriously injured, the lieutenant must act as the base doctor. Amid all these challenges, he learns that one of his men is a mole. At first, the lieutenant believes his crew is a bunch of rotten eggs.
As he gains experience and gets to know the men better, he realizes that isolation is the real enemy.
Daniel M. White was born in 1938 in New York City. He graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1962. His first assignment was as a communications officer on USCGC Pontchartrain, based in Long Beach, California. In his long Coast Guard career, White also served as commanding officer of the LORAN Station on Iwo Jima when it was under USCG control.
After military service, he spent thirty years in the high-tech industry. He worked for both IBM and Apple Computer. He is retired and lives with his wife in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He has three grown daughters and five grandchildren.
White's book comes at a time when much of the world is still dealing with the problems that arose from being isolated from friends and family during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. In the book, the Coast Guard leadership tries many things to reduce boredom and improve morale and mental health, but most efforts fail. It's a poignant reminder that humans need one another to survive, mentally and physically.
Then the base leaders try one last time to curb the boredom and fix the psychological issues that are impacting the Coast Guardsmen, which becomes a silver bullet. Readers will just have to find out what that is by reading the book.
While sitting upon the yard with my buddy talking about an Asian war now past - some 36 years ago. His words caught my ear as we discussed Fear. Its Not My Battle. His point was our "NOW" relations with our wives. They're Not Our Battle. Yet we don't quite relent and yield to their requests, for it's in us to fight. Drilled into us by DI's - that would NEVER QUIT!
Having never to be Honored or even Welcomed Home
Shouted at to "Get our Pansy"
at least in Our War we fought To WIN!
It Wasn't Our Battle To Win
Oh Yes we fought & it cost us dearly our closest childhood friends.
My Commander - EXO - Division Officer and Legal Officer. All in one week.
I babysat their kids, knew their wives and where they lived, worshipped, and played.
Those memories still break my heart and cause tears to flow.
A Mortar Round or the crack of a "native rifle",
Lives forever changed.
"But there was NOTHING I could do".
"I can't see my enemy"
Oh God Help me find Him before He finds Me!
There lays my closest friend, we played ball and ran and swam as kids .
Camped and told stories too.
I'm alive and he Is dead .
Where can I ever find the words to tell his mom?
I couldn't See Damn it!
It was my time to fight but not my battle you see .
It was me against them, & them against me.
If only, he had another tree!
One week we'd take the Hill, the next we'd give it back!
So you can plainly see...
It's Not My Battle.
Patch up the Holes
Repair the Ray-Domes
Change out the parts and make new ones,
Load Bombs, Bullets, Fuel, Mines & Rockets Too.
Clean windshields and keep-em-flying.
Pray for them and give them a pat on the helmet.
"Hurry for chow now, OK"? and Off the Cat and on their way .
Hopefully to fly again another day.
After all It's not my battle...
But theirs to fight,
even sometimes late into the night.
Rain & Squalls so dense NO ONE can see .
Winds so cold and piercing I'll never forget.
And there in is my battle,
Now I fight - here in MY night.
The Battle of Mind and Heart.
Forgiveness and moving ahead,
and remembering those fallen.
Brothers, friends & ALL.
For you see it was our fight but not our battle ...
for all our blood sweat & tears an yes, even our fears!
I look in retrospect,
What Have We Learned?
Back in the east & fighting in a street, not in a Jungle.
"Where the Hell is the 52 - Support?
"Let's lay some carpet down here - NOW!"
Nothing - absolutely Nothing
a legacy of anger, fear, fighting, and cruelty beyond words.
Lord Come Quick!
Collateral damage, they now call IT!
Civilians caught in the cross-fire.
Oh the Shit we've seen...
Blood, Guts, and Gore to pale any movie you've yet to see.
For what I ask?
Oil - Mineral rights,
What's yours is Mine.
Take it by force!
That's Not Right
and they've got me locked up?
Political wars are the worst.
After all, it's not My battle, but theirs.
Lord come and make things all right and safe again.
Put your Love & Peace in our hearts and minds.
Help us get a decent night's sleep,
and Yes, to even Love our wives - like we should.
We long to again hear you say, "IT IS GOOD".
TWS Bulletin Board
If you wish to make a post to our new Bulletin Board - People Sought, Assistance Needed, Jobs Available in Your Company, Reunions Pending, Items for Sale or Wanted, Services Available or Wanted, Product or Service Recommendations, Discounts for Vets, Announcements, Death Notices - email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Service Reflections Video of the Month
Sgt Robert Deeds, U.S. Marine Corps 1948-1952
Are You a Writer?
As you know, TogetherWeServed is always looking for interesting articles to post to our forums and in this newsletter. Have you written any military-related articles you would like to share with a broader audience? Send your submissions to email@example.com, and you may see them in an upcoming issue.
TWS Flyers Available
Do you have a reunion coming up and would like to spread the word about Together We Served? We now have flyers that help explain who we are and what we do.
TWS Invite Cards
Did you know we have Together We Served invite cards you can hand out to any veteran you meet? It even has a place to put your name, service branch, and member number, so you get credit for the invite.
Does your association chapter have a different logo from your state or national association chapter? We are working on programming that will allow us to add chapter logos. If you have one, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll get it added for you as soon as the programming is complete.
VA and Other News
Biden awards Medal of Honor to 4 soldiers for Vietnam War heroism
By Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Joe Biden on Tuesday bestowed the nation's highest military honor to four Army soldiers for heroism during the Vietnam War, bravery that he said had not diminished even with the passage of time.
Biden presented the Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Edward N. Kaneshiro, Spc. Five Dwight W. Birdwell, Spc. Five Dennis M. Fujii and retired Maj. John J. Duffy. Speaking at a ceremony in the White House East Room, Biden praised their heroism, noting that many like them don't receive "the full recognition they deserve."
"Today, we're setting the record straight. We're upgrading the awards of four soldiers who performed acts of incredible heroism during the Vietnam conflict," Biden said.
"It's just astounding when you hear what each of them have done," he said. "They went far above and beyond the call of duty. It's a phrase always used, but ... it takes on life when you see these men."
Addressing the three living soldiers and relatives of Kaneshiro, who is deceased, the president said, "I'm proud to finally award our highest military recognition, the Medal of Honor, to each of you."
Biden noted that more than 50 years had passed "since the jungles of Vietnam where, as young men, these soldiers first proved their mettle. But time has not diminished their astonishing bravery, their selflessness in putting the lives of others ahead of their own, and the gratitude that we as a nation owe them."
Kaneshiro, killed in action by hostile gunfire in Vietnam in 1967, received his honor posthumously for a Dec. 1, 1966 raid where his unit came under fire by North Vietnamese troops. His actions were credited with helping his unit withdraw from the village where they were fighting. Kaneshiro was born and raised in Hawaii, a son of Japanese immigrants.
Birdwell was honored for actions helping to head off an assault and evacuate wounded at Tan Son Nhut Airbase near Saigon on Jan. 31, 1968, despite injuries to his torso and face, during an opening salvo in what is known as the Tet Offensive, an especially bloody period of the war.
Birdwell, a member of the Cherokee Nation and a lawyer in Oklahoma City, had received a Silver Star for his actions. Biden said it took Birdwell's commanding officer decades to realize that Birdwell had not received the proper recognition and took steps, even in retirement, to "make this day possible."
"At long last, long last, your story is being honored as it should have always been," Biden told Birdwell.
Fujii received a Medal of Honor for actions over four days in February 1971, treating wounded and directing air strikes against enemy positions after his air ambulance was forced to crash land.
Duffy was recognized for leading troops who came under ambush after their commander was killed in action, repelling attackers and evacuating wounded, despite his own injuries. Duffy went on to become an author and once was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
"He is the definition of a warrior poet," Biden said.
Distrust remains after Navy report on tainted Hawaii water
By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher and Caleb Jones, The Associated Press
HONOLULU - Lauren Wright continues to be leery of the water coming out of the taps in her family's U.S. Navy home in Hawaii, saying she doesn't trust that it's safe.
Wright, her sailor husband, and their three children, ages 8 to 17, were among the thousands of people who were sickened late last year after fuel from military storage tanks leaked into Pearl Harbor's tap water.
About 6,000 Navy, Army, and Air Force families were affected by the toxic spill. The Wright family has returned to their military housing after spending months in Honolulu hotels, but they continue taking safety measures, including taking short, five-minute showers. They don't drink their tap water or cook with it.
A Navy investigation released Thursday blamed the fuel leak and the water crisis that followed on shoddy management and human error. Some Hawaii residents, including Native Hawaiians, officials, and military families, said the report doesn't help restore trust in the Navy.
"I was at least hoping for some sort of remorse for the families and everybody involved in this," Wright said.
She said the ordeal has changed her view on the military from a decade ago when her husband first joined.
"I was the proud Navy spouse, you know, stickers and T-shirts," she said. "I feel like the Navy has failed at what they promised every service member. They failed at a lot of things. And I'm not so proud."
It's difficult to trust the Navy partly because Hawaii residents and officials for years have questioned the safety of the giant fuel storage tanks that have sat above an important aquifer since World War II, said Kamanamaikalani Beamer, a former trustee of the Commission on Water Resource Management.
"Releasing a report saying that they were lying to us is not a step towards building trust," he said. "De-fueling and getting the tanks out permanently, setting aside funds to remediate the water systems all across Oahu and replant our forests - when I see steps like that happening - that's a tangible step toward rebuilding trust."
Some Native Hawaiians said the report only deepened a distrust of the military that dates to at least 1893, when a group of American businessmen, with support from U.S. Marines, overthrew the Hawaiian kingdom. More recently, Native Hawaiians fought to stop target practice bombing on the island of Kahoolawe and at Makua Valley in west Oahu.
"There's no proof I should have faith in them," said Kalehua Krug, with Ka'ohewai, a cultural organization advocating for a clean aquifer for Oahu. "They've done nothing but lie for generations."
The Department of Defense recognizes the water problems "have damaged trust between the Department and the people of Hawaii, including Native Hawaiians - and it is committed to rebuilding that trust," Gordon Trowbridge, acting assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, said in a statement.
The investigation report released Thursday listed a cascading series of mistakes from May 6, 2021, when operator error caused a pipe to rupture and 21,000 gallons of fuel to spill when it was being transferred between tanks. Most of the fuel spilled into a fire suppression line and sat there for six months, causing the line to sag. A cart rammed into this sagging line on Nov. 20, releasing 20,000 gallons of fuel.
The report said officials defaulted to assuming the best about what was happening when the spills occurred instead of assuming the worst. This contributed to their overlooking the severity of the situation.
The spill contaminated the Navy's water system. Fuel didn't get into the Honolulu municipal water supply. But concerns the oil might migrate through the aquifer and get into the city's wells prompted the Honolulu Board of Water Supply in December to shut down a key well serving some 400,000 people. The agency has been asking residents to conserve water because of this and unusually dry weather.
The tanks continue to pose a threat to Oahu's drinking water while they hold fuel, said Ernest Lau, manager and chief engineer of the water utility.
The report saying it will take more than two years to drain the facility is concerning, Lau said on Jul. 1.
"The fact that they built this massive facility in three years, so can't they find a way to do all the necessary work in less than two and a half years ... I think it can be done," he said, urging the Navy to look at shortening the timeline.
This week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin "directed the establishment of a Joint Task Force led by a senior Navy admiral solely dedicated to a swift defueling effort, who will report to him through the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, to oversee defueling of Red Hill as rapidly as safety allows," Trowbridge said. "The Department recognizes that what we say is far less important than what we do, which is why its most senior leaders are focused on this effort."
Kristina Baehr, an attorney who represents more than 100 military and civilian families who lodged claims against the Navy, said it was especially troubling to read in the report how pervasive the errors were.
"This is a national security issue," she said, noting many of her clients were still experiencing the effects of the tainted water. "And our families and military communities cannot be mission-ready if the government has made them sick."
High cost of Russian gains in Ukraine may limit new advance
By The Associated Press
After more than four months of ferocious fighting, Russia claimed a key victory: full control over one of the two provinces in Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland.
But Moscow's seizure of the last major stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk province came at a steep price. The critical question now is whether Russia can muster enough strength for a new offensive to complete its capture of the Donbas and make gains elsewhere in Ukraine.
"Yes, the Russians have seized the Luhansk region, but at what price?" asked Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst in Ukraine, noting that some Russian units involved in the battle lost up to a half their soldiers.
Even President Vladimir Putin acknowledged Monday that Russian troops involved in action in Luhansk need to "take some rest and beef up their combat capability."
That raises doubts about whether Moscow's forces and their separatist allies are ready to quickly thrust deeper into Donetsk, the other province that makes up the Donbas. Observers estimated in recent weeks that Russia controlled about half of Donetsk, and battle lines have changed little since then.
What happens in the Donbas could determine the course of the war. If Russia succeeds there, it could free up its forces to grab even more land and dictate the terms of any peace agreement. If Ukraine, on the other hand, manages to pin the Russians down for a protracted period, it could build up the resources for a counteroffensive.
Exhausting the Russians has long been part of the plan for the Ukrainians, who began the conflict outgunned - but hoped Western weapons could eventually tip the scales in their favor.
They are already effectively using heavy howitzers and advanced rocket systems sent by the U.S. and other Western allies, and more is on the way. But Ukrainian forces have said they remain badly outmatched.
Ukraine's Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said recently that Russian forces were firing ten times more ammunition than the Ukrainian military.
After a failed attempt at a lightning advance on the capital of Kyiv in the opening weeks of the war, Russian forces withdrew from many parts of northern and central Ukraine and turned their attention to the Donbas, a region of mines and factories where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.
Since then, Russia has adopted a slow-and-steady approach that allowed it to seize several remaining Ukrainian strongholds in Luhansk over the course of recent weeks.
While Ukrainian officials have acknowledged that their troops have withdrawn from the city of Lysychansk, the last bulwark of their resistance, the presidential office said Tuesday the military was still defending small areas in Luhansk.
Zhdanov, the analyst, predicted that the Russians would likely rely on their edge in firepower to "apply the same scorched earth tactics and blast the entire cities away" in Donetsk. The same day that Russia claimed it had taken the last major city in Luhansk, new artillery attacks were reported in cities in Donetsk.
But Russia's approach is not without drawbacks. Moscow has not given a casualty count since it said some 1,300 troops were killed in the first month of fighting, but Western officials have said that was just a fraction of real losses. Since then, Western observers have noted that the number of Russian troops involved in combat in Ukraine has dwindled, reflecting both heavy attrition and the Kremlin's failure to fill up the ranks.
The limited manpower has forced the Russian commanders to avoid ambitious attempts to encircle large areas in the Donbas, opting for smaller maneuvers and relying on heavy artillery barrages to slowly force the Ukrainians to retreat.
The military has also relied heavily on separatists, who have conducted several rounds of mobilization, and Western officials and analysts have said Moscow has increasingly engaged private military contractors. It has also tried to encourage the Russian men who have done their tour of duty to sign up again, though it's unclear how successful that has been.
While Putin so far has refrained from declaring a broad mobilization that might foment social discontent, recently proposed legislation suggested that Moscow was looking for other ways to replenish the ranks. The bill would have allowed young conscripts, who are drafted into the army for a year and barred from fighting, to immediately switch their status and sign contracts to become full professional soldiers.
The draft was shelved amid strong criticism.
Some Western officials and analysts have argued that attrition is so heavy that it could force Moscow to suspend its offensive at some point later in the summer, but the Pentagon has cautioned that even though Russia has been churning through troops and supplies, at rapid rates, it still has abundant resources.
U.S. director of national intelligence Avril Haines said Putin appeared to accept the slow pace of the advance in the Donbas and now hoped to win by crushing Ukraine's most battle-hardened forces.
"We believe that Russia thinks that if they are able to crush really one of the most capable and well-equipped forces in the east of Ukraine ... that will lead to a slump basically in the Ukrainian resistance and that that may give them greater opportunities," Haines said.
If Russia wins in the Donbas, it could build on its seizure of the southern Kherson region and part of the neighboring Zaporizhzhia to try to eventually cut Ukraine off from its Black Sea coast all the way to the Romanian border. If that succeeded, it would deal a crushing blow to the Ukrainian economy and also create a corridor to Moldova's separatist region of Transnistria, which hosts a Russian military base.
But that is far from assured.
Mykola Sunhurovsky of the Razumkov Center, a Kyiv-based think tank, predicted that growing supplies of heavy Western weapons, including HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, will help Ukraine turn the tide of the war.
"The supplies of weapons will allow Ukraine to start a counteroffensive in the south and fight for Kherson and other cities," Sunhurovsky said.
But Ukraine has also faced massive personnel losses: up to 200 soldiers a day in recent weeks of ferocious fighting in the east, according to officials.
"Overall, local military balance in Donbas favors Russia, but long-term trends still favor Ukraine," wrote Michael Kofman, an expert on the Russian military and program director at the Virginia-based CNA think tank. "However, that estimate is conditional on sustained Western military assistance and is not necessarily predictive of outcomes. This is likely to be a protracted war."
Veteran Works to Save Afghan Ally
Navy veteran James Seddon served in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010 and met many brave Afghans who risked their lives to help in the mission. He fell in love with the country and its people. So, it was difficult to watch the rapid loss of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Like many veterans of that war, he is now involved in the effort to save those allies who were left behind. He participates with veterans groups who run safe houses, build food networks, share information, and strive to protect their allies from afar. They are committed to "not leave a man behind." The fight to save their allies is costly. They fight old trauma and lose sleep from worry and from trying to become amateur immigration experts in their spare time. This is in addition to their jobs, families, and other commitments. It is also literally costly, taking their families' funds to support our allies, pay for immigration attorneys, passports, visas, and travel expenses.
One man who Seddon is working to save worked on his base, among many others, during his ten years of service to the U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. This man risked his life on the roads of Kabul, transporting logistics and personnel. He also worked on base in logistics, facing the same risks as the American military personnel around him. He did this in the hopes of a better future for his country and his family. He had no intention of leaving Afghanistan. That all changed when the Taliban took over. They visited his home, searching for him by name, just as they are doing for all who helped the U.S. He only escaped with the help of neighbors who lied to the Taliban about his whereabouts. He's now in hiding, his life in danger. Because of Seddon's help, his legal immigration process for entry to the United States is in progress but will take many months to complete. In the meantime, Seddon is struggling to obtain the funds for visas, travel, and lodging to keep this man and his family safe.
Seddon has turned to crowdfunding, hoping that Americans who share his value of keeping our promise to our allies can assist directly in the fight with a contribution of any amount. Even five bucks makes a difference. Even just sharing the fundraiser on your email or social networks makes a big difference. You can find more of his story and get involved here: https://gofund.me/d37d026f.