Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Last Surviving Soldier...

... to have fought in trench warfare during WWI was not a hero, maybe never even killed a German during the war, although he recalled at least one whom he had shot with his machine gun and revolver. That was in his very first battle in 1917.

What brings him to noteworthiness today is that he was the last living of all known soldiers to have fought in the trenches during World War I, at 111 years and 38 days he was also the oldest man in England, was also one of the oldest in the world, and he passed away on July 25th. Another thing that made him noteworthy was that he never believed the war was worth the effort. His father was wounded in WWI in 1914 and was returned home where he told Harry of the war's horrors in an attempt to keep his son from voluntarily joining the army. It was to no avail as Harry was called to join (conscripted) in 1916. He stepped foot on the continent in 1917 and faced his first battle then.

During his first engagement that involved an attack, Patch recalls the terrors he experienced. As his unit advanced (he was a machine gunner) he came across another British soldier who begged Harry to kill him because he had been severely wounded. A moment later the soldier cried out for she who which all men call at such times - his mother - and he perished. Patch also described the first German he shot, a soldier during the same engagement. As the German soldier charged, Patch shot him with his Lewis Light Machine Gun. The German dropped his rifle but did not fall and within a couple of seconds Harry decided to shoot him in his leg and ankle with his revolver to stop but not kill him. He recalled later that he had thought of biblical verses of when Moses received the commandments and the commandment: Thou Shalt not kill. Despite his firm religious and ethical beliefs, Patch went to fight - probably because he also believed in service to his country. He served again in WWII but on the home front and not in the military because he was too old at the time. Patch served 4 months in the trenches during WWI before he was wounded in the groin due to an explosion that killed 3 others in his unit. It was a day and an event that would haunt him for the remainder of his life.

It took him over 80 years for him to talk about it or anything else about 'the war to end all wars'. He was interviewed in 1998 for a documentary about World War I and apparently felt it was time to start talking because he realized then he was part of a vanishing breed. I imagine he did not think then he would be the last of them but he began to do several documentaries about WWI. In 2007 though the realization sank home and he made the following observation:

"Any one of them could have been me. Millions of men came to fight in this war and I find it incredible that I am the only one left."
—Commenting on graves at a
Flanders war cemetery, July 2007 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Patch)

Amazingly Harry was born in the 19th century - that would be the 1800's folks - in 1898. He lived through 3 centuries. He was a plumber by trade. He served on home defense in WWII being too old for military service by then. He married at least twice and survived both of his sons. Henry Asllignham, the next to last living soldier who had been in the trenches during WWI passed away exactly one week before Harry. Mr. Patch's view of war was a simple one, at least of WWI:

"Too many died. War isn't worth one life..."

I don't know that I agree with him on that point overall athough maybe he was right about WWI; WWII was a beast of a different nature. WWII, I think, was worth the price to defeat the evil in that one. As for Harry Patch and his view of WWI, as I said - maybe he was right on with that one. As he said, in 2004 when at a memorial for a battle, when he met Charles Kuentz (a 108 year old German veteran at the time):

"It was very emotional. We had both been on the same battlefield at Pilckem Ridge. He was a nice man, and we communicated, even though we had no common language. Then we both sat in silence, staring out at the landscape. Both of us remembering the stench, the noise, the gas, the mud crusted with blood, the cries of our fallen comrades. We had both fought because we were told to. All of those lives lost for a war finished over a table. Now, what is the sense of that? Neither Charles nor I ever want any other young man ever to go through that again." (reference link)

Read more about Harry Patch at the above links, or if you have the inclination read about him in his own words in his autobiography: The Last Fighting Tommy. Lest we forget Harry Patch - he was a man of conviction and a man who served with honor, and was indeed the last surving soldier, The Last Fighting Tommy, who saw trench warfare in WWI.

All the best,
Glenn B

Biweekly Gun Shots - Lack Of Gun Rants

I have not forgotten that I promised a new section, some time ago, dedicated to presenting you with gun rants at least once every two weeks, or twice per week depending on how you interpret the word 'biweekly'. While I was in Tucson, I just did not have a lot of time to blog, and while I had access to three firearms, I did not have access to any more of them and had darned little time to shoot. I think I went to the range twice - once to qualify for my job and once when my son Brendan came to visit me for 10 days. With that said allow me to also say that I will continue the Biweekly Gun Shots starting sometime today or within the next few days. I'll try my darnedest to get one done today, maybe later tonight since I probably will be tied up with other obligations this afternoon.

All the best,
Glenn B

4 Suspects Detained In U.S. Border Patrol Agent's Death - Did You Even Realize a BPA Had Been Shot & Killed Recently?


The article at the below link appeared on FoxNews.com today Sunday July 26, 2009. The death of Border Patrol Agent Robert Wimer Rosas (photo), and the capture of 4 suspects gets a good amount of press, the story is well written and so forth. Still, I have to wonder how in Hades this article only appeared today! Was there anything about the killing of the Border Patrol Agent on Thursday or Friday? I ask because he was gunned down on Thursday. I heard about it through official channels at work. I certainly would have thought that the death of a federal agent due to foul play would have been newsworthy - then again - one wonders if the current administration had anything to gain by keeping a lid on it for a few days. You know let it out over the weekend so all the hype over it dies down by Monday morning when Congress will again consider giving health benefits to illegal aliens. Maybe I am wrong, maybe it did appear in online news outlets and I just missed it. I guess I missed it on the news on the radio and on TV on Thursday and Friday too.

Oh well, enough of me ranting, the important thing is that another LEO has fallen doing his job trying to protect the USA - and also that this was one of the most pointless deaths of all. I mean think of it this way, our borders are like Swiss cheese because the politicians refuse to enact simpler yet stricter laws - they just do not care how many enter illegally or how many bring in drugs or other contraband so long as the flow of illegals fulfills there political agenda for whatever twisted purpose. Yet at the same time we have thousands of Border Patrol and other federal agents working in harm's way along our borders fighting immigration crimes for which none to few are prosecuted. Go figure. Don't spend too much time figuring right now though, instead spend some time trying to honor the fallen agent's memory.

Suspects Detained in Mexico in U.S. Border Agent's Death - Local News News Articles National News US News - FOXNews.com

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Well look at this one below too, it appears I was wrong and the story did come out earlier - well on Saturday anyhow.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,534761,00.html?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a16:g2:r2:c0.029487:b26726076:z0

Bear in mind though he was shot and killed on Thursday. What a shame that the media is so slow in reporting such news - yet Michael Jackson was on the news almost before he was cold, and he stayed there for what - two weeks or so. Of course we have also heard an awful lot about some guy who got arrested in Cambridge, MA and who cried racism, or was it he screamed racism. We have even heard about that at least two or three times from the President of the United States himself. I wonder, how many statements has he made about Border Patrol Agent Robert Wimer Rosas (or was it Albert Rojas - I have seen it reported both ways)! I have not heard word one from President Obama about this tragic and senseless loss, then again it is possible I missed the news conference he may have held about it. If anyone deserves your prayers, your condolences, you admiration, your attention right now - then it is this fallen agent and his family and other loved ones. Come on President Obama, come on all you Congresspeople, come on all you entertainers, come on you in the Media, come on fellow bloggers, come on all you regular Joes and Janes - give up the time to spare him a thought and a comment or three in his honor.

By the way:

Yeah I know, I only blogged about this in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Then again I am not the media, I am not the President, I am not someone whose job it is to notice such men or honor them. I had been thinking of doing this piece on Friday, but had no time on Friday (unlike the media which has minions to do the reporting). In addition I cannot just take time out of my schedule the way certain politicians can to drop by a baseball game like the All Stars game, or take time to meddle in things like disorderly conduct arrests and make statements about them before even a bit of the facts from BOTH sides are known, or then invite the parties in that petty affair to my home for beers and a kiss and make up session. Nope I actually have some important things to do that I do not have lackeys to do for me; things like like balance my checkbook, or spend time with my mom who was hospitalized today.

Somehow though I found time to honor BPA Robert Wimer Rosas in my own small way because I thought that was very important too. I found time at 1:15 AM to do so. I am not blowing my own horn here, I am just wondering why the heck aren't many others doing likewise especially in politics, government service, and in the media. It boggles my mind, so much so that now I am going to go have a beer and maybe a shot of excellent Irish Whiskey. Why? Because to tell you the truth, after reading about this agent and writing about it myself - then thinking about M. Jackson, and about the whole disorderly conduct arrest of that guy Gates, and President Obama's response to it, and about the response overall or lack of it to the death of BPA Rosas (or apparent lack of it) - well I need both and you can bet I will toast him as I drink them. Heck it could have been me or any other federal agent or LEO but it wasn't - was it. It was Border Patrol Agent Robert Wimer Rosas and we should honor him and grieve with his family.

My condolences go out to his family and loved ones. He is and will remain in my thoughts for some time to come. He is doing Line-Watch of a different sort now, from a much loftier perspective, I suppose.

All the best,
Glenn B

A Balancing Act...

...or should I say Balancing Accomplishment, or better yet Balancing Milestone - I balanced my checkbook today. Actually, I started on it a few days ago. I sat down then for about 3 or 4 hours with it and started to rewrite the whole thing. Why? Well, it seems that when I was in Tucson it did not get filled in as it should have. I sat down with it again today and was busy with it for 6 1/2 hours nonstop except once or twice to answer the phone. When I was done it was off by $75.93. I found that one tonight after about another 1/2 hour. We paid a bill twice, my wife by check and me by EFT but it only got entered once. It is amazing I found. While in Tucson I kept details of all the bills I paid by EFT, I sent emails to my wife and called her with the info to input into the checkbook. I kept the details in a file called 'bills' on my thumb drive. Wouldn't you know that when I looked for that folder tonight it was not there. Beats me how it disappeared but I was miffed. Luckily I also had a folder for my ATT bills and the only one in there was the one that was paid twice. So when I looked at that file, there it was, the extra payment. Sometimes dumb luck hits us on the head.

I have to tell you that when I arrived home to find only a couple of grand in the checkbook - when I knew it should have contained at least about $9 0r 10 thousand dollars - I was pissed and I let everyone know it. People three or four blocks away probably heard me. Besides that there was another thing to be p-o'd about. I had opened a new account in December (the one in question) because another account had not balanced correctly and was off in our favor by about 2 or 3 grand. We knew the money in there was legitimately ours because we sought of stash money in the account sometimes by not writing in deposits. Leaves us a windfall if there is ever an emergency. The thing is we just lost track of the right balance and had let it go that way over a year. So I stopped using that account for a couple of months to be certain every check had cleared. I opened a new one to use while it was in essence shut down. The new one was only opened in December 2008, and it was already fouled up big time by the end of my 4 months in Tucson. What a mess; but it got taken care of after about 10 or 11 hours of work at it.

It sure pays to stay on top of things like that, and my wife and I plan to do so from now on. Really folks, all kidding aside, my wife is usually better at this than am I, by a long shot.


Oh, before I forget, lest you think I am rolling in dough - I am not. Most of the money in the newest account is either owed to my government credit card account for my trip, or is money I have on the side for a car. It will soon be time to sell the 1996 Ford Taurus and get a new one. We bought the Taurus new way back in 1996 or maybe it was late 95 (whenever the new cars are out which I think is in the actual year prior to the model year for at least a few months). So I guess we have had it at least 13 years, maybe 14 years. Yes we tend to hang onto our cars for quite the long while before we get another. It took forever to save the approximate 8 grand I have set aside for a down payment and if I can convince my wife to cough up her money from her private account (imagine a husband having a private account - yeah right) then maybe we can buy a new one outright. One can hope.

All the best,
Glenn B