April 04, 2005

Gable and Stewart's successors? Anyone? Bueller?

I was reading again last night, for no good reason, about American Air Force bomber gunner Clark Gable (B-17s) and pilot Jimmy Stewart (B-24s), and their missions over occupied Europe.

While there was certainly some PR involved, there's no doubt there was some real danger, too for these two established Hollywood stars. There were many others, of course, both British and American (and I don't count Reagan among them). But can anyone name ONE member of the American cultural elite that has volunteered for military service since Sept. 11? Just one. I'm honestly asking here. I'm not a big fan of "Greatest Generation" mythologizing, but there would seem to be something significant in this.

I mean, say what you want about Alan Alda, but at least he really did do a stint in Korea (postwar).

PS: In response to reader emails, yes, I would not count NFL football player Pat Tillman as a Hollywood personality. Brave man and good role model, yes. But it's a different subset of celebrity. There were lots of pro athletes who volunteered for service in WW2, as well... the NHL alone gives us player/owner Conn Smythe (both wars, WIA in WW2), league point-leaders Roy Conacher and Max Bentley, forgotten star goalie Frank Brimsek, and the entire Boston Bruins 'Kraut Line.'

Posted by BruceR at 03:18 PM

Samarra bridge-pushing: final update?

1st Lt Jack Saville was sentenced in March after pleading guilty to two counts of assault in the Samarra bridge-pushing incident. He received 45 days imprisonment, a $12,000 fine, and an army discharge.

Note that this is somewhat less than his platoon sergeant, Tracy Perkins, who is apparently now serving a six-month prison term, received. The reason for the light sentence is because Saville has offered to testify against his superior officer who had allegedly drawn up a list of local Iraqis to be executed on sight.

The interesting question now is whether that officer, company commander Matthew Cunningham, might in turn finger his own superior, army football hero Nate Sassaman, whose loss of his best friend, engineer Capt. Eric Paliwoda, to a mortar attack was a contributing event to a series of violent retributions against suspected Iraqi insurgents that culminated in the bridge-pushing, and the subsequent interference with army investigators following an Iraqi bloggers' request for justice.

Bloggers Jeff Jarvis and Glenn Reynolds, who criticized that first sentence as "light," have so far had no comment on this one that I've read. This story, which began long ago with Zeyad's claims his cousin was killed started a military investigation (and who was widely and viciously attacked for making them) is now apparently over. The Sassaman In Samarra story still may have some legs to it, though.

Posted by BruceR at 02:12 PM

Documenting a profoundly anti-military culture, contd.

I see Homicide:Life on the Street's Clark Johnson is making his return to Canadian television with yet another two-hour drama about corruption in the Canadian army. Oh, joy.

You know, if it went by what one actually sees on TV and in the papers, a friendly space alien would conclude that the Canadian military is somewhere below Haiti's in the public esteem department. Which is, of course, entirely true.

Posted by BruceR at 09:55 AM