Memoirs & Diaries: A Letter Home From A U.S. Serviceman in Paris, 11 November 1918

11 November 1918

Dear Folks:

Arrived here last night, and was on the street today when the armistice with Germany was signed.  Anyone who was not here can never be told, or imagine the happiness of the people here.  They cheered and cried and laughed and then started all over again. Read more



The First Combat Pilot – Roland Garros

Roland Garros (1888-1918) was a leading pre-war French aviator and gained renewed fame during the First World War.

Garros’ interest in aviation stemmed from a visit to the Reims air show of 1909; until this point he had studied music with the intention of becoming a concert pianist.  However his career aspirations underwent a rapid change in the wake of the air show.

Following a series of air lessons he himself practiced exhibition and stunt flying, setting numerous records during 1911-12.  In 1913 he flew from France to Tunisia – some 800 km – and was teaching military aviation in Germany when war broke out in August 1914.  Undeterred he smuggled his way back to France – via a night flight to Switzerland – and signed up with the renowned Storks squadron.

Garros’ initial wartime achievement – a notable one – was his development of a forward firing machine gun which despatched bullets through the rotating blade of his Morane-Saulnier L aircraft; to protect the propeller he attached steel deflector plates, a somewhat crude if effective safety device.

In a two week period in March 1915 Garros downed no fewer than five German aircraft, an achievement that led to his being dubbed an “ace” in an American newspaper; the term stuck and was consequently attributed to other Allied pilots who similarly achieved five successes.

Garros’ run of good fortune deserted him however the following month, April 1915, when he was obliged to crash land his aircraft behind German lines.  Caught trying to burn his aircraft so as to protect the secret of his forward firing machine gun Garros was placed into captivity and his aircraft handed over to aircraft designer Anton Fokker.  Fokker subsequently designed a far superior (and safer) form of forward firing mechanism using an interrupter gear.

Held prisoner in a German camp for the following three years, Garros escaped in February 1918 and promptly returned to air service in France, scoring several more victories.  He was however shot down and killed in action on 5 October 1918 while flying a Spad above Vouziers.


Here’s an excerpt from another article I found that shows the differences between Garros wedge and the Fokker Interrupter Gear.

Garros figured that less than seven percent of the bullets he fired would strike the propeller. To guard against accidents from that seven percent, he designed triangular metal shields for the back of the propeller blades. The shields were angled to deflect bullets away from the plane and the pilot.

MoraneSaulnier Bullet

Fokker, a skilled pilot, was an aircraft designer and builder as well as a fine mechanical engineer. He was asked to duplicate thedeflector on theGarros plane. Studying the fire control system he found, he decided it was an impractical method for firing a machine gun. Fokker decided it would be better to design a mechanism which would allow the gun to fire when the propeller was in a horizontal position.In a reasonably short time, Fokker designed just such a mechanical system allowing a pilot to fire his machine gun from the cockpit by pressing a switch on the “joy stick.” It was tested by Fokker and military pilots before acceptance.

Source: World of war planes

Highway to Hell

Michael Kelly’s Grisly Depiction of Post-Battle Carnage in the Gulf War

I wanted to add images to this article that were not included in the original post so I did an Image search with the keywords: Highway to Hell. The descriptions of the carnage in this article coincide with the images I just finished viewing. I chose not to add them here, but if anyone is curious, just follow the link above.  FAIR WARNING, they are nothing nice to look at...ugh.

NOTE: Graphic descriptions of the Gulf War


Reporting from the Gulf War established Michael Kelly’s reputation and began the path that led to his editing the magazine. His subsequent short stint in the top job reflected his personal style; the weekly he put out was both hotheaded and irresistibly warm. In this piece, the finest foreign coverage the magazine ever ran, he describes following a corpse-strewn path of the defeated Iraqi Army. Years later, covering the second Gulf War, he was traveling along a similar route when enemy fire caused his Jeep to fatally run off the road.  —Franklin Foer Read more

New Hope For Veterans With PTSD


When Jim Satcher was first deployed to Vietnam in 1965, the term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) didn’t exist. But he came home with it, nonetheless. Satcher, who did three tours during the war, was stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in 1968 when the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces attacked the airbase in one of the first strikes of the infamously brutal Tet Offensive.Now medically retired from the military and a retired business owner, Satcher said he has lived a full and productive life. This despite his decades-long battle with PTSD, which he originally wrote off as typical war-related stress, hoping it would just fade away. It didn’t. Satcher didn’t get treatment for his PTSD at the Department of Veterans Affairs until 1993, 18 years after leaving Vietnam. Read more

Inside The Vietnamese Government’s Haunting War Museum That Portrays America As The Enemy

This Vietnamese boy stares intently at an American soldier beside a South Vietnamese ally in a display at the museum in 2000.

I debated whether or not to share this post but after reading and thinking about it, I’ve concluded that it’s important for us [Americans] to see how we are viewed by other countries–propaganda (?) and all. I’ve only shared part of this photo journal, it continues through the link at the end of this article.

The Vietnamese government-run War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is one of Vietnam’s most popular museums. It draws 500,000 visitors annually, according to Christina Schwenkel, who wrote about the museum in her 2009 book “The American War In Contemporary Vietnam: Transnational Remembrance and Representation.” Foreigners comprise two-thirds of the visitors. Read more

Obama Is Awarding The Medal Of Honor For A Soldier’s Heroics From More Than 151 Years Ago




With the seemingly endless headlines of ‘disturbing news’ we’re flooded with every day, here’s a story with a ‘happy’ ending, 151 years in the making.  Enjoy!




The White House announced on Tuesday it would award the Medal of Honor to an Army officer who distinguished himself during the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg more than 151 years ago. Read more