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muscogeemike
08-30-2012, 09:38 PM
With all due respect and glory to the vets of WWII (whichever side they fought for), but does anyone else, especially the Civil War and WWI bufs, think that the title “The Greatest Generation” may not be not warranted?

Those guys in the US Civil War, marching by the tens of thousands into what was almost certain death, and yet doing it again and again; and the French, Commonwealth, German, Russian and, to a lesser degree, American, doing the same in WWI seems to me to be pretty impressive.

We make a great thing of the D-Day invasion - yet US causalities weren’t really that great. The truth is that most of the US servicemen and women really didn’t know much about world affairs and were simply doing what they thought was expected of them. My own mother, who is an educated woman, was a teen during WWII and constantly amazes me as to how little she knows of how world events related to cause and fight the war.

I’m sure others can add to my examples (the Napoleonic Wars?). It seems to me if you put it all in perspective “The Greatest Generation” was any generation that went to war, which is pretty much any human generation.

Neutral
08-31-2012, 04:54 AM
I don't think you can compare those generations by using solely their sacrifices in battle. Taking your examples into account, my reasoning is that during the US Civil War the nation was divided so that generation was unable to solve its problems and preserve unity, no greatness there, WWI was a war barely felt by the common man on the street, the US came out of it unharmed and barely different, society wise.

The US WW2 generation was quite different in a sense that it started with the World in a great economic depression, was attacked by a foreigner nation in their own territory, managed to vanquish their enemies and emerge as a superpower. Everybody pitched in during those years, not only the soldier at the front. Of course, if you asked a non-white or a house wife with ambitions beyond the kitchen if that generation was great, opinions would probably vary greatly.

As a foreigner, I see that generation not only in the US but also in the UK, as the greatest mainly because no other generation achieved so much in so little time with so much sacrifice involved.

Cheers

Ardee
08-31-2012, 10:13 AM
I believe you are missing the point of the sobriquet. IIRC, Tom Borkaw titled his book _The Greatest Generation_ not because they paid a price so much greater than other generations, but rather because the stakes where so much higher: the moral and ethical future of mankind. The greatest comes from having "saved" mankind. Personally, I think that's a premise that is *slightly* overblown, as other generations surely faced great bloody tyrants as well. But without question, today's world would be a much, much darker place had Axis won. The technology and global reach of a triumphant Axis would have transformed the world in a way that Napoleon, for example, could never have achieved.

Nor do I believe Brokaw meant for the "Greatest Generation" to apply only to Americans: rather, it would include all of those who opposed the Axis vision of the future.

Laconia
09-03-2012, 12:16 PM
I think like someone else said here the fact that they also came up through the depression era, having to work hard for everything they got. Not only that, but when they came home they didn't complain about this or that, what disabilities they migh have received from the war, but just went on with their lives. Not only did they continue with their hard work, building up the nation in an economic sense, but also in increasing the population dramatically. I think the term "The Greatest Generation" was highly appropriate. Certainly a better bunch of folks that those who came after them. ( People like me, a person who grew up with just about every modern comfort). Thanks Dad!

forager
09-13-2012, 12:52 AM
I think the discussion misses an important element.
The focus should include the homefolks and their great efforts and sacrifices.
I was among the initial wave of baby boomers and spent my childhood and later life hearing tales and seeing examples of this.
The entire society rolled up its sleeves and went to work.
It took a lot to send the guys to fight and feed and supply them.
Rosie the Riveter appeared.
At the same time daily affairs at home were maintained in their absence.
It was a very big deal and required massive effort on all levels, dwarfing any prior events.

akgeronimo501
09-13-2012, 05:03 PM
I would also like to add, as a US Civil War buff. The casualties by regiment were not always that great. You were by no means walking into "almost certain death". In fact using the 51st VA as an example, it fought from 1862 till the end and lost five men killed in action. My father told me about his mother trading her meat ration cards for gas or other things. Can you imagine the society we live in today getting ration cards? What do you think would happen?

Washout
01-17-2013, 06:26 AM
It's funny how we call them the greatest generation while shitting on everything they ever did that didnt include dying en masse. Media likes to look back to the 1950's and early 1960's -the era that saw the greatest generation back home living life -as an era of backwardness, where all those awful people looked down their noses at unwed mothers and welfare, "paranoid and backwards crazies" believed that communists and the Soviet Union were a danger, black people weren't given proper deference, and everyone was a simpleton rube who saluted the flag and watched dumb *** Westerns.

Each and every year at least one critically hailed movie looks back on the postwar era through the eyes of some poor put upon minority, or repressed women whose ******* husbands believe they should stay home and do laundry, or it tells the story of some great newsman who heroically stamped out the evil anticommunist menace

Nickdfresh
01-17-2013, 06:35 AM
It's funny how we call them the greatest generation while shitting on everything they ever did that didnt include dying en masse. Media likes to look back to the 1950's and early 1960's -the era that saw the greatest generation back home living life -as an era of backwardness, where all those awful people looked down their noses at unwed mothers and welfare, "paranoid and backwards crazies" believed that communists and the Soviet Union were a danger, black people weren't given proper deference, and everyone was a simpleton rube who saluted the flag and watched dumb *** Westerns.

Each and every year at least one critically hailed movie looks back on the postwar era through the eyes of some poor put upon minority, or repressed women whose ******* husbands believe they should stay home and do laundry, or it tells the story of some great newsman who heroically stamped out the evil anticommunist menace

http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/400x/21642961.jpg

tankgeezer
01-17-2013, 07:47 AM
It's funny how we call them the greatest generation while shitting on everything they ever did that didnt include dying en masse. Media likes to look back to the 1950's and early 1960's -the era that saw the greatest generation back home living life -as an era of backwardness, where all those awful people looked down their noses at unwed mothers and welfare, "paranoid and backwards crazies" believed that communists and the Soviet Union were a danger, black people weren't given proper deference, and everyone was a simpleton rube who saluted the flag and watched dumb *** Westerns.

Each and every year at least one critically hailed movie looks back on the postwar era through the eyes of some poor put upon minority, or repressed women whose ******* husbands believe they should stay home and do laundry, or it tells the story of some great newsman who heroically stamped out the evil anticommunist menace
I must at this time warn you against the further use of profanity on the Forum Boards. "them the greatest generation while shitting on everything they ever did " Most folks use asterisks, or some other device to get the point across, and you will as well. this is a Moderator warning.

flyerhell
01-18-2013, 01:33 AM
It's funny how we call them the greatest generation while shitting on everything they ever did that didnt include dying en masse. Media likes to look back to the 1950's and early 1960's -the era that saw the greatest generation back home living life -as an era of backwardness, where all those awful people looked down their noses at unwed mothers and welfare, "paranoid and backwards crazies" believed that communists and the Soviet Union were a danger, black people weren't given proper deference, and everyone was a simpleton rube who saluted the flag and watched dumb *** Westerns.

Each and every year at least one critically hailed movie looks back on the postwar era through the eyes of some poor put upon minority, or repressed women whose ******* husbands believe they should stay home and do laundry, or it tells the story of some great newsman who heroically stamped out the evil anticommunist menace

It's a shame that you used profanity in your post because you raised excellent points. Other than the war, that generation is also held in high regard for constructing the suburbs, highways and interstate as we know them today, the economic boom that followed the war and the post-war baby boom. I'm not sure where the conservative and sterile image of the 50s came from but you are correct - the popular image of that era is exemplified by very popular movies like Back to the Future, Pleasentville and Dirty Dancing (that was the early 60s but still the same image). I wonder where that image came from and when it started? Importantly, the PEOPLE who fought in the war are heralded while the 50s is an IMAGE...

My first guess is that it could be a response to the depression in the 30s and the violence of the 40s. People might have just wanted to relax and get on with their lives. It's also possible that since everyone was having children at the same time, everyone wanted to maintain a "safe world" for their children. Of course, the 50s was NOT nearly as peaceful and sterile as it is made in most films...and not all films do show that era in that way...The Outsiders is a good example of that.

Rising Sun*
01-18-2013, 02:43 AM
It's funny how we call them the greatest generation while shitting on everything they ever did that didnt include dying en masse. Media likes to look back to the 1950's and early 1960's -the era that saw the greatest generation back home living life -as an era of backwardness, where all those awful people looked down their noses at unwed mothers and welfare, "paranoid and backwards crazies" believed that communists and the Soviet Union were a danger, black people weren't given proper deference, and everyone was a simpleton rube who saluted the flag and watched dumb *** Westerns.

Each and every year at least one critically hailed movie looks back on the postwar era through the eyes of some poor put upon minority, or repressed women whose ******* husbands believe they should stay home and do laundry, or it tells the story of some great newsman who heroically stamped out the evil anticommunist menace

What Nick said.

Nickdfresh
01-18-2013, 11:02 AM
...I'm not sure where the conservative and sterile image of the 50s came from but you are correct - the popular image of that era is exemplified by very popular movies like Back to the Future, Pleasentville and Dirty Dancing (that was the early 60s but still the same image). I wonder where that image came from and when it started? Importantly, the PEOPLE who fought in the war are heralded while the 50s is an IMAGE...
....

T.V. and peoples nostalgic, sanitized memories that white wash the 1950's even though in many ways it was nearly as a turbulent time as the "60's" (a period generally recognized as about 1964-1975)...
http://img2-1.timeinc.net/ew/i/2012/09/27/parenting-leave-it-to-beaver.jpghttp://blog.nj.com/entertainment_impact_arts/2007/10/large_Happy%20Days.jpg

Rising Sun*
01-19-2013, 07:21 AM
With all due respect and glory to the vets of WWII (whichever side they fought for), but does anyone else, especially the Civil War and WWI bufs, think that the title “The Greatest Generation” may not be not warranted?

Those guys in the US Civil War, marching by the tens of thousands into what was almost certain death, and yet doing it again and again; and the French, Commonwealth, German, Russian and, to a lesser degree, American, doing the same in WWI seems to me to be pretty impressive.

We make a great thing of the D-Day invasion - yet US causalities weren’t really that great. The truth is that most of the US servicemen and women really didn’t know much about world affairs and were simply doing what they thought was expected of them. My own mother, who is an educated woman, was a teen during WWII and constantly amazes me as to how little she knows of how world events related to cause and fight the war.

I’m sure others can add to my examples (the Napoleonic Wars?). It seems to me if you put it all in perspective “The Greatest Generation” was any generation that went to war, which is pretty much any human generation.

I agree entirely.

I haven't read Brokaw's book, nor am I likely to, but I understand that his thesis is that the American generation which went through the 1930s Depression, WWII, and post-war achievements was uniquely 'great'.

The grand scale of WWII and America's military and industrial mobilization makes that thesis understandable, but if grand scale in pre-war poverty, losses during WWII and post-war achievements are the basis for the greatest generation then the Germans, Soviets, and Japanese have their own claims to be the greatest generation in that era, not least because in the case of Germany and Japan they rebuilt their nations (albeit with considerable support from America under the Marshall Plan in Europe and other arrangements for Japan) from something close to utter ruin while America never had even mild damage on its own land apart from Pearl Harbor.

As for the Civil War, it too was preceded by a long economic depression 1837-45 or thereabouts which affected many of those who fought in that war, although not as close to the Civil War as the 1930s Depression was to WWII. The Civil War American deaths exceeded the total of those of WWI; WWII; Korea; and Vietnam, from a very much smaller population than the later wars, while American towns and property were razed and civilians displaced and mistreated in ways at times comparable with the experience of Russians under the Nazis. Andersonville was far, far worse than the experience of Americans in most German POW camps in WWII. The American POW death rate in German camps WWII was about 1%; in Japanese camps about 30 to 40%, depending upon source and classification of POW in camp as distinct from pre-camp deaths such as Bataan Death March; and in Andersonville camp approaching 30%. The commandant of Camp Sumter at Andersonville, Henry Wirz, was tried after the war by a federal (i.e Union) military tribunal and executed in a forerunner of the post-WWII war crimes trials by the victors dealing with treatment by their enemy of their POWs.

One could argue that the greatest American generation was the one which endured and followed the Civil War and, despite the deep divisions and horrors in that war, managed to build the United States of America against all the odds into a unified nation of immense strength in the succeeding one and a half centuries which laid the necessary foundations for Brokaw’s 'greatest generation'.

From the American perspective, it could be said that the achievements of the Pilgrims in the face of considerable adversity; the resolution of the colonists against Britain’s vastly superior resources in the War of Independence; the Civil War as already mentioned; and the settlers who opened up the West were equally ‘great’ in their time, for they all faced various forms of adversity; overwhelming odds against success; and triumphed in the face of all that.

Without any disrespect to Americans who fought in WWII and who mobilised its industries for war, America’s contribution to victory wasn’t a surprising achievement given America’s supremacy as an industrial power immune from attack on its industries. As Yamamoto, Churchill and others who understood America’s potential knew before the war, once America unconditionally entered the war its industrial supremacy assured victory against Japan and probably against Germany. The measure of America’s supremacy is that not only did it raise and supply its own land, sea and air forces but it alone among the Allies supplied its allies with substantial amounts of materials of every kind necessary for victory against the Axis.

One of the problems with the claim that the Depression / WWII generation was the greatest is that it ignores the fact those involved were responding to circumstances beyond their control. Contrast that with the War of Independence where the colonists had a choice about taking on a superior enemy or just buckling under to a stronger authority, but chose to take a principled stand without being energised by something equivalent to Pearl Harbor.

There is no question that America’s achievements in WWII were great, and that that greatness filters down to everyone involved , but to claim that the WWII generation was ‘the greatest’ seems to me to diminish unfairly the achievements of previous, and subsequent, American generations. Not to mention conveniently ignoring a whole host of other great generations from the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks to the British who built its Empire and plenty of other nations and cultures which were great in their time.

Rising Sun*
01-19-2013, 08:28 AM
T.V. and peoples nostalgic, sanitized memories that white wash the 1950's even though in many ways it was nearly as a turbulent time as the "60's" (a period generally recognized as about 1964-1975)...

You're correct about the 50s being a turbulent time, as evidenced by things such as the uniquely American and uniquely hysterical McCarthy hearings and the wider fear of communism in other Western countries and, drifting in to the early 1960s, the Cuban missile crisis.

I was educated by the Christian Brothers during that period. By Grade 6 in the early 60s I knew that the Jews would be the first lot herded into the cattle cars and lined up on the graves they'd dug at gunpoint and we Catholics would be next under the commies. I even knew the names of local commie union officials to be feared, courtesy of the Christian Brothers who drummed those fears into me with more force and success than conventional primary education.

During the Cuban missile crisis I remember sitting in the schoolyard with another kid as we discussed whether we'd see the nuclear missiles coming or if there'd just be a blast and that would be the end of us. At that time our city's phone book had on the inside front cover a map of our city with rings radiating from the centre of the city showing the effects of a nuclear weapon exploding over the city centre. Total annihilation in the centre radiating to paint melted off buildings in the distant hills. I lived a lot closer to the centre, but not guaranteed to be vaporised. Maybe just burnt very badly before dying a while later. I was rather relieved when JFK stared the Russians down and won.

Contrast that real fear of Armageddon at the hands of the commies with the popular culture of the times as evidenced by wholesome but noxious little stereotypes like Beaver Cleaver in your photo. (At the time, none of us down here knew what ‘beaver’ could mean in America, but since we found out many of us reckon that the ‘Leave it to Beaver’ producers or writers were laughing up their sleeves. Conversely, you have no idea what wonder and hilarity was induced by our discovery from American TV that you had ‘root beer’. ‘Root’ here is a synonym for sexual intercourse, so you can imagine our admiration as a serious beer drinking nation for your nation as the inventors of a root beer, and the surprisingly uncensored lyrics by Elvis which we heard as ‘Tutti frutti, I wanna rooty’.)

I suspect that the wholesome family and suburban ideals embodied in shows like ‘Leave it to Beaver’ and ‘Father Knows Best’ (despite the older sister Betty being an unattractive, sour bitch) which I grew up with were a projection of the desire to replace the miseries and horrors of the recent WWII past with a nice world, which after all was the idealised world for which the West supposedly fought and, to a fair extent, more or less achieved in the economic boom which followed WWII in America and certainly Australia, and perhaps elsewhere.

But not poor bloody Britain which largely destroyed itself fighting the good fight for a couple of years on its own and had to repay America its Lend Lease debt while the Germans and Japanese who lost the war they started got massive economic support from America to discourage them from going to war again while Britain still had rationing years after the war, giving rise to the book ‘The Mouse that Roared’ and the Peter Sellers film where Fenwick goes to war with America to lose the war so it can get massive aid http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053084/ .

flyerhell
01-20-2013, 04:06 PM
Great posts! Growing up in the United States, it's always interesting to see how people in other nations dealt with the Cold War.

Rising Sun*
01-21-2013, 07:22 AM
Great posts! Growing up in the United States, it's always interesting to see how people in other nations dealt with the Cold War.

Thanks.

For another view from outside the US on that generation, I'm currently watching a documentary on JFK's assassination which consists entirely of contemporary news and amateur films and audio.

It takes me back to that sad day. I had turned 14 about a week earlier. I was doing my after school job selling newspapers on a street corner opposite our town hall, a pub, and a picture theatre. (Unlike current kids who think they are entitled to every penny of their parents' money for doing sweet FA, I did a paper round - delivering newspapers to homes on my bike - starting about 5 a.m. Monday to Saturday, did a day at school Monday to Friday, and then sold papers on that street corner late afternoons Monday to Saturday. And we weren't even a remotely poor family, but it was made clear to me that if I wanted more than the modest amount of pocket money for which I had to work in the family then I had to get a job like mine: paper or chemist (US = druggist / pharmacist) delivery, or a few other jobs for young teenage boys.)

My, and probably everybody else's that I know, level of disbelief when the news of JFK's assassination arrived was somewhat below my disbelief while watching the twin towers saga unfold on 9/11.

JFK's administration seemed at the time to hold all the hope for a better world, and his death seemed to put the cap on it.

Of course, I was besotted with JFK/Jackie/Camelot press of the time and quite unaware of the history I now know, but at the time it was a hammer blow which seemed to put an end to the prospect of the most wonderful future.

LBJ certainly managed to finish off the wonderful future, if ever there was one given Kennedy's involvement in starting what became the Vietnam War under LBJ and Nixon. But we didn't know that then.

flyerhell
01-29-2013, 05:37 PM
I never even considered Australia to be a target if WWIII over broke out...most people just assumed that the US would nuke the USSR, the USSR would nuke the US and that would be it.

Cojimar 1945
03-07-2013, 09:41 PM
I don't know how we can be sure of the stakes involved in an Axis victory. I expect things would have been very bad for a while but sometimes countries can become less repressive over time. For example, South Korea transitioned from a brutal dictatorship to a democracy that seems to have some respect for human rights. I don't see how we can be sure of how things would have progressed in Axis countries and occupied territories over time.

Also, I'm not sure it is accurate to view the war as people standing up to the forces of evil. The Nazi-Soviet conflict was a major part of the war and this seems to me more like a case of evil vanquishing evil. The Soviet regime may not have quite matched the atrocities of the nazis but they were engaged in a lot of reprehensible behavior.

muscogeemike
03-08-2013, 06:59 PM
I don't know how we can be sure of the stakes involved in an Axis victory. I expect things would have been very bad for a while but sometimes countries can become less repressive over time. For example, South Korea transitioned from a brutal dictatorship to a democracy that seems to have some respect for human rights. I don't see how we can be sure of how things would have progressed in Axis countries and occupied territories over time.
Also, I'm not sure it is accurate to view the war as people standing up to the forces of evil. The Nazi-Soviet conflict was a major part of the war and this seems to me more like a case of evil vanquishing evil. The Soviet regime may not have quite matched the atrocities of the nazis but they were engaged in a lot of reprehensible behavior.

You are correct the Soviets didn't "quite match" the Nazi atrocities - Stalin surpassed them!

flyerhell
03-11-2013, 03:20 AM
I don't know how we can be sure of the stakes involved in an Axis victory. I expect things would have been very bad for a while but sometimes countries can become less repressive over time. For example, South Korea transitioned from a brutal dictatorship to a democracy that seems to have some respect for human rights. I don't see how we can be sure of how things would have progressed in Axis countries and occupied territories over time.

Good point but that's because South Korea was a simple dictatorship - they didn't conquer anyone. The leaders of South Korea were ruling over people of the same culture, ethnicity and nationality. They were brutal but no different than the current brutal dictators in Africa and the former dictators in South America.

On the other hand, the Axis (especially Germany and Japan) were ruling over conquered people of different cultures, ethnicity and nationalities. They regarded most of those people as less than themselves and they needed to deal with threats to their rule (as the dictators also do/did) but also the rallying of the oppressed people because they were different than their rules.

A better example (but still not great because the Soviets set up "puppet governments" while the Germans wanted to remain in control and have those places as part of "Greater Germany") may be the Soviets following World War II in places like Hungary, Poland or the Baltic countries...they were pretty brutal when they first got to those countries and then just made sure that things continued as they would like (when they didn't, they would move in, like in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968).

Rising Sun*
03-11-2013, 08:16 AM
I never even considered Australia to be a target if WWIII over broke out...most people just assumed that the US would nuke the USSR, the USSR would nuke the US and that would be it.

From my selfish perspective at the time, that would have been a satisfactory end to WWIII.

However, a US / USSR nuclear exchange would have affected rather more nations than just the distant combatants. A dramatic (i.e. for dramatic rather than necessarily factually based claims) extension of the wider risks was pursued in the book and film On The Beach http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Beach_%28novel%29 .

The film was made in my city, where Ava Gardner is reputed to have said of it that it was the correct place to make a film about the end of the world. This is believed to flow from her Hollywood conceit that the capital city of a state in our federation would have decent restaurants; pubs that were open after 6 p.m.; and something approximating nightlife. I can understand her disappointment at the absence of all these and other things a Hollywood star expected to be on tap, because it hadn't changed much about a decade later when I was in my mid-teens.

Rising Sun*
03-11-2013, 08:30 AM
South Korea transitioned from a brutal dictatorship to a democracy that seems to have some respect for human rights.

South Korea transitioned from being a shamefully exploited colony of the brutal Japanese for several decades before and during WWII into a nation which is yet to receive Japan's admission of any guilt for its oppression and exploitation of the Koreans, let alone proper compensation for it.

Meanwhile, Japan transitioned from one of the few supposedly developed nations which were 20th century monsters of abuses of human rights into a democracy no more corrupt than South Korea, while carefully avoiding any full admission of its spectacular abuses of human rights in China from the early 1930s and from 1941 everywhere it went in its war of aggression.

Japan showed no sign of being less repressive over time when it was in the ascendant. To the contrary, it became more and more brutal as it progressed from events such the Sook Ching and Tol Plantation Massacres and Bataan Death March to the Burma Railway and then the transportation of the survivors to the coal mines and other industries in Japan.

The only way the Japanese everywhere and the Germans in Eastern Europe were going to become less repressive over time was by running out of victims for their vile atrocities on everyone who wasn't like them.

royal744
08-27-2013, 05:05 PM
But not poor bloody Britain which largely destroyed itself fighting the good fight for a couple of years on its own and had to repay America its Lend Lease debt while the Germans and Japanese who lost the war they started got massive economic support from America to discourage them from going to war again while Britain still had rationing years after the war, giving rise to the book ‘The Mouse that Roared’ and the Peter Sellers film where Fenwick goes to war with America to lose the war so it can get massive aid http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053084/ .

RS, I hope that by now you have been disabused of the notion that that England had to "repay its Lend Lease debt". The only part of Lend Lease that the British had to repay was the part it received after VE Day and chose to keep. England was also by far (as in multiples of what any other country received) the largest recipient of Marshall Plan aid. Marshall Plan aid did not require repayment.

steben
08-28-2013, 04:54 AM
You are correct the Soviets didn't "quite match" the Nazi atrocities - Stalin surpassed them!

perhaps not by method, but surely by numbers

steben
08-28-2013, 04:57 AM
The only way the Japanese everywhere and the Germans in Eastern Europe were going to become less repressive over time was by running out of victims for their vile atrocities on everyone who wasn't like them.

Don't forget the Soviet Union became a different place once Stalin died. I'm sure that would have happened in a German Empire as well. Hitler wasn't a very healthy fit person. Eventually Western occupied zones would regain a sort of independency.

royal744
08-28-2013, 07:08 PM
Brokaw's book was a good read. Personally, I prefer Studs Terkel's The Good War. I have problems with both books' titles, but they are, after all, only titles. Arguing over the term "the greatest generation" is fine but probably an exercise in futility. Really large scale death tolls in wars didn't begin until the American civil war which ranged on a continental scale, and continued to the horrors of WWI and on a truly worldwide scale during WW2. What separated WW2 from all the rest was the sheer vastness of it all both in numbers killed, civilians killed, world surface covered and the increasing power of the weapons culminating in the atomic bomb. Whoever said that those who participated didn't realize or know (or care) that they were a great generation - they were doing what needed to be done to get it over with - was right. From the impoverishment of the Great Depression to the Engine of Democracy, suddenly America went from 25% unemployment to 100% employment, producing vast quantities of food and goods and weapons on a scale never before seen. Before 1940, before the British orders started rolling in, there was precious little swagger among the majority population in America. After Pearl Harbor, an unstoppable juggernaut of unparalleled proportions rose in the land.
To get "it" done, "it" had to be done. We would, at the same time, be foolish to think as Americans that this changed our country in terms of all sorts of social disparities and injustices as returning Negroes from the war soon discovered to their dismay. Much in fact had changed for the better, but a great deal remained (and remains) to be done.

royal744
08-29-2013, 03:24 PM
Thanks.

LBJ certainly managed to finish off the wonderful future, if ever there was one given Kennedy's involvement in starting what became the Vietnam War under LBJ and Nixon. But we didn't know that then.

Vietnam was LBJ's Achille's Heel. It ruined him. But before we bash him completely, let's remember that it was LBJ who rammed through the Civil Rights Act of 1965 based almost entirely on the force of his personality and his deep knowledge of the House and Senate. This was a bill that JFK could not get passed and LBJ - a Southerner and a Texan, no less - did it after the assassination. Most of the great moments in the Civil Rights movement can trace their roots to this event which occurred 100 years after the end of the Civil War, a disgracefully long period of time.

Rising Sun*
08-31-2013, 09:51 AM
Vietnam was LBJ's Achille's Heel. It ruined him. But before we bash him completely, let's remember that it was LBJ who rammed through the Civil Rights Act of 1965 based almost entirely on the force of his personality and his deep knowledge of the House and Senate. This was a bill that JFK could not get passed and LBJ - a Southerner and a Texan, no less - did it after the assassination. Most of the great moments in the Civil Rights movement can trace their roots to this event which occurred 100 years after the end of the Civil War, a disgracefully long period of time.


LBJ was probably handed a poisoned chalice with Kennedy's assassination.

I was too young at the time to know or care about the politics of the era but, with the benefit of hindsight, I think that in some ways he was crucified on a cross not of his own making over Vietnam.

Against that, he was also a life-long and astute politician and political survivor whose span went back to and beyond his undeserved Silver Star in New Guinea in WWII, so by the time Kennedy died he certainly knew what he was doing. But he sometimes appears to be a tortured soul as President.

Had Kennedy lived, I'm not sure that the Vietnam exercise would have turned out any differently, although there is the possibility that Kennedy might have been more aggressive as he was over the Cuban missiles with a different result.

royal744
09-01-2013, 04:16 PM
This is the man who Kelly Johnson, the Starfighter's creator, turned to to keep them flying all over the world.

A tribute to Ben McAvoy, Mr. Starfighter
Whoever would dial the telephone number 274-1490 in Phoenix and listened to the answering machine, would hear the harsh reply: "We're not here, but if you leave a number, maybe we'll call you back!" So much for the friendly part of Ben McAvoy. If you wanted to talk with Ben about the Starfighter, you could be sure, you'd get a callback. All other things were not so important. His life was consumed by the F-104 Starfighter, whose 50th anniversary he only survived by a few weeks. As a real highlight, on 13 March 2004, Ben had the honor, on the 50th Anniversary of the F-104 Flight Test Reunion in the Lancaster Elks club in Palmdale, California, to speak on the highlights of the world-wide operations of the Starfighter. He gave stories of business, bureaucracy, admiration and technical problems of his love. An airplane of which over 2500 were built over the years and flown with love and enthusiasm. And Ben was there, from its beginning in Palmdale until 1981 as Lockheed's representative assigned with the German training program at Luke AFB.

In nearly thirty years as Lockheed technical advisor, Ben McAvoy helped service all models of the Starfighter and watched with attention. From the first airplanes of the A series, to the F-104C's in combat in Viet Nam, to the F and G models of the Military Assistance Program (MAP) and to the 916 Starfighters for Luftwaffe and Marine, Ben was there.

Ben McAvoy was born in 1932 in Iowa, Kansas, a town in the middle west of the USA. After high school, He enlisted in the USAF. His goal was to become an aircraft mechanic on the legendary P-51 Mustang fighter. During his time in the Air Force, he became a technician on the F-86 and after four years of service he came to the decision: Jet Fighters! When Ben signed up with Lockheed in 1956, the secret Starfighter program was in its final stage of development. Lockheed's legendary airplane engineer, Kelly Johnson, had filtered out two basic demands for the future American air superiority fighter from the experiences of the pilots of the Korean War: Speed and acceleration. When he presented the XF-104 to the first test pilot Tony LeVier in 1954, the experienced pilot only had one question: "Where are the wings?" However the test flights proved that Kelly Johnson had succeeded in developing an airplane, which could reach more than twice the speed of sound in horizontal flight, at altitudes of over 100.000 feet, and in less time than every other aircraft in the whole world. Ben had found his life's-task. Technical support of the Starfighter.

After his training in Palmdale, Ben's first assignment was as aircraft mechanic at Eglin AFB, Florida and Duluth, Minnesota. In 1958 he participated in the promotional tour of the new US fighter to several European countries including the World Exhibition in Brussels and took care of "his" Starfighter. As a result, Ben was promoted to Lockheed Field Representative for the Starfighter and assisted in the F-104 set-up in Spain and in the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1961 Lockheed sent their Starfighter expert to Nörvenich AB, where the Luftwaffe was beginning its first training program with the new combat aircraft. Ben advised the mechanics about the refinements of the new starfighter and got, beside admiration, some critics as well, because of his superior system knowledge. The intelligent pilots appreciated it and were grateful when they had landed somewhere and after a telephone call with Ben in Nörvenich, the 104s were ready to fly again with just a few tricks. Every now and then Ben was also used as flying mechanic, in order to solve problems on the spot. He could hardly hide from the question: "What did you do with my airplane?" As a civilian worker Ben showed little shyness at ranks and military position. After a problem was solved, a lot of pilots were advised "to take better care better of Ben's airplane in the future".

1964 Ben returned to George AFB, Ca. In short order he was moved again with the F-104 C's to DaNang AB South Vietnam, in order to provide technical assistance for the first combat missions of the Starfighter. As he did in Nörvenich Germany, Ben became the central point of contact relating to the systems of the F-104. Throughout the employment the Starfighter in Vietnam, it was occasionally evaluated critically, even though the numbers stated something else. Over 10,000 missions with a combat ready rate of over 80%. Acknowledged positively by the escorted combat aircraft and also by Forward Air Controllers, who needed the speed, the F104 supplied fighter-bomber fire support to the constantly changing fighting in air-to-surface employment. Although the Starfighter did not book a single air victory, it would fulfill its task of air superiority. The MiGs preferred, in order to avoid the Starfighter, to stay out of its way. After the end of the initial employment of the F 104 in Vietnam, in 1966 the Starfighters were again sent to Southeast Asia. At the end of 1966 a squadron was sent to Udorn Thailand, and of course with Ben McAvoy as Lockheed Field Service Representative. With the experiences of the combat operations Ben returned in 1967 to the USA and became technical advisor for the F-104C and D in San Juan Puerto Rico. Then in 1969 his employer Lockheed put him in charge of maintenance activities of the German-American training program for the Starfighter at Luke AFB, Arizona.


With a short interruption, 1972 - 1973, when Ben supported the build up of the Greek Air Force in Athens, Ben was "Mr. Starfighter" for the program at Luke. Until 1981 he cared for the German F-104 G Starfighters at Luke as Lockheeds Tech Rep. For a total of 10 years he became part of the most successful binational training program, the German Air Force and the German Navy had ever accomplished. Whenever questions were asked about the Starfighter, from night bombing to Dart Tow, Ben was the first one to be asked. His knowledge of the airplane and its abilities brought not the question whether a certain profile was feasible, but how it had to be flown. Ben knew about the potential of "his" Starfighter. But not only were the big decisions given to Ben, every now and then it paid off for changing military commanders to have a man on hand with Bens expertise. Ben thought it was necessary after 10 years of flying operations at Luke, to remind the flyers by writing about the "Operating characteristics of the F/TF 104 / J-79 during high ambient temperatures". Would "T2 Reset" still be a secret? Ben became acquainted with the Germans, and therefore the respect grew. They were German airplanes, but somehow all were Ben's own children, for whom he felt fully responsible. Even after years of thundering start and engine whistles on the approach Ben had a reason to look into the sky, in order to follow his Starfighter.

In 1981 Lockheed sent Ben back again to the Skunkworks in Palmdale Ca. His expertise was again needed for another secret project of the USAF, the F-117 Nighthawk fighter. Sadly Ben left his beloved Starfighter and contributed to the operational success of the F-117. In 1987 Ben McAvoy retired after 31 years with Lockheed. He could now devote himself totally again to his Starfighter. As technical advisor, this time freelance, he gave his advice and actively helped to make old Starfighters airworthy again, and worked to keep the few flying ones still airworthy. In 1976 Ben helped Daryl Greenamyer successfully establish a new low-altitude flight speed record of 988 miles per hour with his privately built F-104. Ben also advised museums and helped owners of private Starfighters on how to maintain their aircraft.

Of the 50 years of the F-104 Starfighter Ben McAvoy enjoyed 48 years. Therefore it was never a question for him to be a member of the Starfighter organization, the Cactus Starfighter Squadron. Although only in the rear seat, at least that's what is known, Ben collected sufficient flying hours, to take center stage after night flights and at the bar. Kelly Johnson, who conceived and designed the Starfighter in 1953, once said. "Ben McAvoy knows more about the F-104 Starfighter than I do." Well said.

Ben McAvoy passed away on 14. May 2004. On 12.June 2004 a funeral service was held in his house with friends, acquaintances and the Cactus Starfighter Squadron. His ashes were scattered into the wind on 18.July 2004 over Cold Lake, Canada.
From an F-104 Starfighter of course.




Ben enjoying the hospitality of the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB



© written by Karl "Charlie" Georg Boettcher, regional leader USA/CA of the Cactus Starfighter Squadron

Wittmann
09-15-2013, 12:08 AM
Thanks the for post Royal and everyone else, we must remember.

One of my relatives that severed during ww2 said that they only did what they they had to do and that they don't feel very exceptional. While he and others of his generation might see it that way, I'm glad we don't. They can be modest, we cant. We tend to think of military service only, but at home women were working in the factories and children, like my father and his older brother, were brining in recyclables with their wagons while their father was serving in WW2 and then Korea.

This link is in reference my Great Uncle Dale Pence http://www.huntington.edu/News-Releases/All-News/Bronze-Star-Sacrifice/ . At the bottom of the article my Uncle Dale Pence mentions Tom Brokaw.