Big Bubba's Take On War Heros in the News
I have not been able to determine very much specific information about Senator Murtha's military service. He volunteered for the Marine Corps in 1952. He rose through the ranks to Captain. He left Marine Corps active duty in 1959 for the Marine Reserve.
He remained a Marine Reservist until he volunteered for a tour of duty in the Republic of Viet Nam. It appears that unlike Hanoi John he actually served for 12 months and then returned to the Marine Reserves.
Senator Murtha retired from the Marine Corps Reserves in 1990 as a Colonel. I very much admire the fact that Colonel Murtha volunteered for an active duty tour in the Republic of Viet Nam.
What is significant about Senator Murtha's service? Most of his service was spent in the Reserves. He was a Colonel, a rank of special trust and responsibility. But, that was in the reserves. Old soldiers often joke that at the Pentagon the Lieutenant Colonels' job is to make the office coffee. Senator Murtha rose above that level, but never served at the Pentagon or any high position of trust and responsibility.
I don't believe that it was ever reported that Colonel Murtha was sighted conferring with Abrams, MacNamara, President Johnson or any other President or high ranking official about military affairs when he was in the Marines. I am sure that he was never responsible for proposing national policy and strategy. His command level would be brigade which is not remarkable.
I respect Senator Murtha and admire his accomplishments, however, basically he did what a few million other guys did. He served in uniform.
Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hi, is a genuine war hero. He also rose through the ranks from Private to Captain in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the famous "Go for Broke" regiment. The 442nd RCT will always have a special place in the heart of members of The Great State of Texas' Fightin' 36th Infantry Division because of their famous rescue of the "Lost Battalion" in Italy during WWII.
The 442nd was an all Japanese unit that not only had to avoid death in combat, but also the racism of the Army of that day. Senator Inouye endured specific acts of racism best exemplified by being the recipient of a Distinguished Service Cross for an act of bravery that was absolutely incredible. He should have received a Medal of Honor. Senator Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor for that act of bravery in 1990.
His act of bravery cost him his arm and twenty months in military hospitals before he was discharged back to civilian life. Senator Inouye became a lawyer and has spent his life in the service of his country.
He did serve, however, he was not on General Marshall's staff at the Pentagon. He didn't sit down with Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin at Yalta. He was a foot soldier in Italy like many, many others.
It is being reported that Senator Inouye in a press release critical of the Republican "white flag" advertisement stated ,"As a Veteran of World War II, I know what it’s like to fight a war and put your life on the line every day. I also know what it takes to win a war, and I know that politics and an attack machine like the President’s plays no part in it."
Senator Inouye is either very naive, or he thinks we are very naive, if he believes that politics do not play a part in winning any war. If Senator Inouye had attained high military office he undoubtedly would have been introduced to Vom Krieg by General Carl Phillip Gottfried von Clausewitz (1780-1831). General von Clausewitz tells us that,
"War is not merely a political act but a real political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, a carrying out of the same by other means."
Senator Inouye and Murtha are fine gentlemen and I respect their military service. They undoubtedly have insights into military service that only those who have served will have. That is all very special, however, if this country ever had to depend on Captain Inouye, Private Kennedy, Colonel Murtha, Sergeant Rangel, or Captain McCain for the military expertise necessary to conduct the operations of our military forces we would be in trouble.
It is a dangerous trend that we are on to worship at the feet of those who merely served and treat them as sacred cows beyond reproach or questioning. Military service remains an asset when seeking a job in civilian life, or in running for political office. We need to keep such service in perspective for what it actually represents.