July resonates for lots of reasons, and, this year because I find it incredulous that President Trump praises Putin, expresses faith in Kim Jong-un’s willingness to denuclearize, while trashing our NATO allies. I’m left of center politically, yet, I believe all Americans should contribute to our democracy. For some, they choose get involved in the political process, others in civic activities, still others teaching their children the values we hold dear in a democratic way of governing. Still others choose military service. The past 4 generations of my family served, including my currently serving granddaughter, none of us particularly heroically, although the Army did award 3 bronze stars to my father during WWII.
July 27, especially tugs at my preoccupation, because a few years ago, on that day, I spoke before a group of Korean War veteran’s on the 62nd anniversary of the war’s Armistice. A Cold War for sure, 92,134 GIs were wounded, 4,759 went missing in action, 36,516 GIs died, 3,000 in captivity, 43% of starvation, and at least 1,000 POWs were left behind. Years later I took the U.S. government to task for this later disgrace. The trial started nearly 35 years ago, July 19, 1983, Federal District Court in Hartford.
Trump demonstrates a willing blindness to a history, where for 50 odd years we fought the Cold War, and then over the past dozen or so, Russia, the former Soviet Union’s seat of power, has reverted to its Cold War autocracy, and aggressiveness toward its neighbors, Crimea for example.
I’ve written about this before, but to make my point, that people died defending against the likes of Russian, I again return to the mid-50s and 60s, and my outfit, the 307th Bomb Wing, Strategic Air Command, where I worked as a gunnery mechanic. In April 1956 (I actually arrive in ’59), a B-47 went down killing all aboard, another accident kill the entire crew, then 50 airmen were lost off the coast of Spain, November 1956, an F-80 fighter jet, crashed into the flight line’s fuel pits, the F-80 pilot and two ground crew members were killed, four others were injured. In February 1958, a B-47 jettisoned fuel tank hit a hanger and the other struck a B-47, killing the crew chief and a repairman. 8 October 1959, a B-47, crashed on take-off killing the crew. June 1961, a bomber crashed south of the runway, entire crew lost their lives. 3 February 1963, bomber crashing on take-off, the copilot, ejected, but was killed. 7 March 1963, a B-47 caught fire during take-off, killing the commander.
Then on 27 July 1964, I was driving to the base and I saw the plume of a B-47 that crashed on take-off; all perished. I stopped. I heard the sirens. That day, after nearly 5 years, I was mustering out. Yes, July reverberates for me, but I should not have to remember it for a president who shows contempt for our NATO allies, while toadying up to Putin, a re-imagined Cold War warrior, or fawning over Kim Jong-un, a Cold War successor.