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Showing posts from January, 2016

Sunset on Muir Field After the Big Snowstorm

I took pictures from several angles of the sun setting on Muir Field, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., after the big snowstorm.  The angles and blades of a Blackhawk helicopter do wonderful things to the light.  I hope I captured a little of that.

One Soldier's Trash is a Teenager's Treasure!

Yesterday I was walking through the Flight Facility--the big hangar for helicopters--at Fort Indiantown Gap and saw a box lunch sitting on the corner of a recycling bin.  Inside were the various packaged treasures below.

In our household, we do not buy snack food.  Really.  My wife blogs about frugality.  This post for instance. No bags of chips, no cookies, nothing processed and printed with pretty faces.  So while many soldiers simply toss these packaged meals, for my sons they are blessed manna from the Army Gods.

So I brought the box home.  My sons ate it almost instantly.

The Army gives soldiers many benefits--and gives a few to my teenage, snack-limited sons.

MK03:Lunch/Dinner Smuckers Peanut Butter &Jelly Potato Skins – Sour Cream & Cheddar Chocolate Chip Cookies Peach Cup Bottled Water Cutlery Kit Moist Towelette

Armor in the Snow: A Cold Day for Cold War Armor

A year ago, I took pictures of the static display Armor at Fort Indiantown Gap after a snowstorm.  Today I took pictures of the same tanks and howitzers after the big storm.

M203 8-inch howitzer
M42 Duster 40 mm Anti-Aircraft
M60A1 and M46 Patton tanks and M3 Sherman 76mm
M60A1 Patton

M3 Sherman 76mm
M60A1 Patton
M1A1 Abrams
M203 8-inch howitzer

Cold War Reheated: Resurgent Russia and Vladimir Putin

At the end of the Cold War, Russia fell into poverty and almost fell apart.  Whether you date the end of the Cold War as the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 or the crumbling of the Soviet Union in 1991, post-Soviet Russia was in a dismal state in the 1990s.  The collapse of government at nearly all levels made Russia a third-world economy with an enormous nuclear arsenal, as well as thousands and thousands of tons of nerve gas in rotting containers in rotting storage facilities.

I just finished reading Steven Lee Myers book "New Czar: Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin." This excellent book brings together many of the details of the life of the most powerful autocrat on the planet today--and is especially good on how a mid-level KGB agent went from the shadows to the heights of power and to enduring popularity with the Russian people.

Before I say any more about the book itself, reading the book gave me a huge feeling of a lost opportunity.  The circumstances of Putin's …

Tank Vs. Citroen 2CV: Polezei on German Roads

Versus This:

During the three years I was a tank commander in West Germany during the Cold War, we rolled through towns, down country roads and along the autobahn in miles-long columns.  Our battalion, the 1st-70th Armor, put 54 tanks and nearly 100 support vehicles on the often narrow roads for field training exercises.  
Most of the time, the local drivers fell in line behind our columns and waited for us to get out of the way.  Sometimes they got impatient.  
One night as Bravo Company rolled along a narrow country road near Fulda, a blue Citroen 2CV started passing tanks in the column, swerving back between the tanks to avoid head-on collisions with oncoming traffic.  
You would think it is easy to avoid hitting a tank, but in the dark, the edges of a tank are not clear--no marker lights like a semi.  And the drive sprockets are in the rear of a tank.  The 1750 cubic-inch engine propels the tank through those sprockets.  
Here is a view of the sprocket.  Smoke from the V-12 …

My Father's First Command: A Black Supply Company

Louis Armstrong Played for My Father's Soldiers at Camp Shenango, Pa.
My father, George Gussman, enlisted in the Army at the end of 1939.  He was 34 years old and at the end of his career as a middleweight boxer and a pitcher for the Reading Phillies.  He was the fourth of six sons of Jewish immigrants from the Russia.  They arrived at the beginning of the century.  My father and his older brothers only went to Boston Latin school until the 8th grade.  The younger boys got all the way through high school--business was better by that time for grandpa.

Dad was a warehouseman in a bad economy and the Army was a steady job.  He took a two-year enlistment which was to end in mid-December 1941.  Dad was packed up to go home in the second week in December.  He never left.

On December 8, 1941, all discharges were cancelled and enlistments extended for the duration of the war.

With war declared many rules changed and the Army sent George to Officer Candidate School.  In 1942 he was commis…

My People: Real Americans, Refugees Running from Killers

Millions of Americans came here from around the globe running from torment and death. They came here as my grandparents did, running from persecution and wanting a place where they could live and raise kids without being suddenly murdered in God's name or the Tsar's name.

My grandparents, Hyman and Esther Gussman, came to America from Odessa, Russia, in about 1900, coming ashore in Boston.  The picture above is one of the big reasons they left--pogroms by the Cossacks that killed at least a million Russian Jews.

It is clear when you look at other countries around the world that America does a better job of assimilation, of making immigrants into Americans, than any other country.

The reason, I believe, is that we have a common culture that is easy to understand and easy to adopt.

For good or for ill, the common culture of America is success and money.  To become American is to leave extremism and make money.  It used to be called making good.

In a cruel parody of faith, A…

Who Are My People?

When I was in Iraq, I started writing under the general title “Who Fights Our Wars?” when I wrote about the soldiers I served with.
At the end of June last year, I retired as a civilian.In May of this year or next year I will leave the Army.When I leave the Army, there will no longer be anyone in my life I am paid to hang around with.Everyone in my life will be a friend, a family member, or someone I chose to associate with.
Which has led me to think about “Who are my people?”So in the same way I have been writing about soldiers I served with, I will write about people with whom I share some activity, which means we share time and space together.Some of these people are or were soldiers.Some are not.
I decided to write about these people because one of the reasons I had for going back in the Army at 54 years old was how much I missed the deep connection I had with some of the people I served with on active duty in the 1970s.
It turned out this ability to connect with people had to do…

Grace Got Married Yesterday

Today I got a wedding picture on Facebook posted by Grace Pak, front row, left.  She was married on December 31.  Earlier this month Lisa Vines was married. She is 6th from the left, next to the Marine, Tyler Giguere.  Ben Simon, fifth from the left, back row, next to me, got married last year.

I know it's not a crazy number of people getting married.  But almost half the class was married when we showed up so 30% of the class got married in just two years.  For that matter 20% got married since December 12.

Being in school with this group was a lot of fun.  I still am in contact with most of them through facebook, even Bill Howard who may or may not actually exist!

Congratulations to Grace and Cris:

To Ben and Heather:  

And to Lisa and Chris: