Sunday, April 14, 2013

Remembering Lawton

Artillerymen from all over the globe have trained at Fort Sill and most have vivid memories (good and bad) of adjacent Lawton south of the post. Lawton was once Oklahoma's third largest city behind Oklahoma City and Tulsa; but now it is fifth - surpassed by Norman and Broken Arrow. In the 1960s when our 2nd Battalion 94th Artillery was re-formed and trained at Fort Sill for service in Vietnam, Lawton was a $1 cab ride from anywhere on Fort Sill. Here are a few iconic symbols of Lawton from the 1960s ...

Bianco's Demolished - End of an Era
Dinner options in 1960s Lawton were mostly limited to Bianco's Italian Restaurant on 2nd Street or Wright's Steakhouse on Cache Road. Rose Bianco, herself, was a Lawton institution. She died a few years ago and worked at the family restaurant well into her 90s. When Kaye and I were married at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in 1966, our reception moved from the church to Bianco's and then to the Officers' Club on post. There were failed attempts to preserve Bianco's as an Oklahoma historic landmark. Rose's family was unable (or unwilling) to keep it going. The sign was auctioned off and there is an attempt to sell jars of spaghetti sauce from her recipe online. Here's a photo of the wreckers taking it down.

Holy City of the Wichitas
In the 1930s, the federal WPA financed various construction projects around Lawton including the road to the top of Mt. Scott and a replica of old Jerusalem on land north of Fort Sill's west range in the National Wildlife Refuge. (Good luck trying to get the federal government to finance a Holy City these days.) Structures and scenes for each of the 14 Stations of the Cross were erected using locally quarried stone. The Passion was portrayed over several hours starting around 3 a.m. and ending with the Resurrection at sunrise on Easter morning. Its popularity peaked in the 1940s with over 150,000 visitors in observance on the surrounding hills and thousands of radio stations from all over the country broadcasting the services. During the mid-60s when we were there, it still attracted over 40,000 worshipers.

Muscle cars and drive-ins were ubiquitous in the 1960s and an army town like Lawton had more than its fair share of each.

Old Downtown Lawton
Downtown Lawton - especially at night - was a wild, tempestuous place. Known as the "impact zone" to artillerymen, C and D streets were loud and often unruly with bars, pawn shops and brothels. But the good old days were gone forever when the city completely leveled the old impact zone and replaced it with an indoor mall. Here is a view in the 1960s before the mall.

Last - but not least - is the old restaurant and store in the abandoned mining town of Meers in the mountains west of Mount Scott. Home of the "Meersburger," this shack is still an attraction and many generations of artillerymen have walked those those doors just so they could go home at talk about it.

“An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted” -- Arthur Miller

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Jane Fonda Apologizes Again

Jane Fonda tells Oprah Winfrey "that thing" she did in North Vietnam was an “unforgivable mistake” and talks about what she learned when she apologized to a group of Vietnam Veterans in an episode of Oprah’s Master Class.

If she is apologizing for giving aid and comfort to the enemy (which is, obviously, what she was doing), then she should apologize for that. She seems to be saying that she was tired at the time and that they tricked her. I still don't understand what her "apology" is actually for. Do you? Is this a genuine apology or is she just being an actress?

"Apology is only egotism wrong side out." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thursday, April 04, 2013

U.S. Removes Last Tank from Germany

Jay Wilmeth saw this story: there are no more U.S. tanks on German soil. Auf wiederSehen!

US Army's last tanks depart from Germany By John Vandiver | Stars and Stripes | Published: April 4, 2013
"STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. Army’s 69-year history of basing main battle tanks on German soil quietly ended last month when 22 Abrams tanks, a main feature of armored combat units throughout the Cold War, embarked for the U.S.
From World War II on through the Cold War, tanker units were a heavy presence in Germany. At its peak, Germany was home to 20 NATO armored divisions, or about 6,000 tanks, according to the 21st TSC."

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Women in Artillery Units

Here is a story about women in artillery units dated Apr 01, 2013 published in Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer by Drew Brooks ...

Women Break Ground in Combat Roles
"The question of whether women can serve in Army roles previously restricted to men is being answered on Fort Bragg, where the male-only world of artillery has opened to female soldiers. Last summer, the 18th Fires Brigade began a pilot program aimed at introducing female officers to what were once all-male units.
The program began even before then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the repeal of rules against women serving in male-only positions.
Nearly a year later, the brigade is preparing to break ground again when it receives the first female-enlisted soldiers in an artillery unit in May."


Here is what former 2/94 FA battalion commander and retired Lieutenant General Richard Trefry had to say when asked Friday, 25 Jan 2013 by NewMax's Paul Scicchitano about Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's announcement in January to allow women to serve in combat units ...

Ex-Lt. Gen. Trefry: Women Not Fit for Combat Infantry
"Retired Lt. Gen. Richard G. Trefry, for whom the Army’s Lifetime of Service Award is named, tells Newsmax that he believes Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is making a “mistake” in lifting the Pentagon’s long-standing ban on women serving in combat.
“I’ve served in combat. I’m a male and I just have often thought that I would not want my wife, my sister, my mother to experience some of the things that I experienced and what I saw,” explained Trefry in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. 'It’s just that simple.'
Trefry spent 33 years on active duty service in the Army and saw combat in Vietnam and Laos before going on to serve as Inspector General of the Army for his last six years under three chiefs of staff and secretaries of the Army."


Meanwhile ...

Female Marines Fail Infantry Officer Course
"The only two women to participate in the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course (IOC) failed ongoing tests to determine which infantry positions should be available to women, according to the Marine Corps Times:
The women failed the introductory Combat Endurance Test, a punishing test of physical strength and endurance, officials at Marine Corps headquarters said Tuesday. The latest class began March 28 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., with 110 lieutenants participating. Ninety-six men passed the initial endurance test. Twelve men and two women — the only female Marines taking part — failed.
The two women both volunteered to participate in the IOC. Two other women had previously volunteered in September but also failed.

Leave a comment if you have one.

"I do not believe in using women in combat, because females are too fierce." -- Margaret Mead

"I think women are too valuable to be in combat." -- Caspar W. Weinberger