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Thursday, March 09, 2006

MILITARY: Wars of the Past and the Present

Today we welcome Military to the newsstand. It's a monthly based in Sacramento, CA that is written by and for veterans of the American armed services. Military is not a fancy publication: it's black and white throughout its 60 pages, with a self-cover, but its pages are cleanly laid out and well-edited. I think it's fair to describe this magazine as having two distinct personalities. More than half of its 60 pages are filled with reminiscences by veterans of their service, mostly in the wars we've fought from World War II through Vietnam. The rest of the magazine is devoted to very, very conservative commentary on current political affairs.

The tales of the old soldiers in the February 2006 issue are fascinating, and made especially poignant by the accompanying photos of the authors as young men at war. They're dying off rapidly now, and some of the reminiscences in Military are published posthumously.

The cover story is about Cat Girl, a B-29 bomber mothballed right after she was built at the end of World War II and hastily brought into service to bomb Communist forces in Korea in 1950. The author, a tail gunner on Cat Girl (he's pictured with the plane on the cover), details her missions and reveals that she was named after stripper Lili St. Cyr, famous in some circles for her "cat girl" routine. He remembers one scene that is cinematically surreal: a MiG-15 jet fighter flying with its landing lights on through a night flight of B-29s, trying to draw fire so that his comrades waiting at a higher altitude could spot the bombers. Cat Girl was to crash later in the war, killing all but one of the crew.

A World War II radioman recalls when his unarmed supply plane, flying low over a German field of alfalfa, encountered a farmer mowing the field with a team of horses. Incredibly, the farmer jumped off the mower and started throwing rocks at the enemy American airplane! The pilot circled around to "buzz" the farmer, causing the horses to bolt and leaving a very angry farmer shaking his fist at the departing plane. In another article a pilot in the Pacific theater writes of a day spent bombing a Japanese destroyer and strafing landing boats heading to the island of Kolabangara. He reports that an Australian "coast watcher" hiding on the island eventually confirmed that he had indeed sunk the destroyer, and mentions in passing that this coast watcher―who may not have survived if those landing craft he strafed had made it to shore―was later to rescue John F. Kennedy and the crew of PT-109. So history turns.

On the political side, the issue's first words on page 2 are: "It is increasingly clear that the leaders of the American leftist political movement have one agenda: to topple the American government and seize power by whatever means possible, including outright treason." I think the author is talking about the Democrats. You'll also find regular columns by such conservative pundits as Oliver North, Thomas Sowell and Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media. A subscription to Military (12 issues) is $17.00 from the publisher; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.


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