War at Christmas

Before we read lawngren’s timely article, we have to take a few minutes to honor and remember one of our most recent fallen.  It’s heartbreaking at any time when one of our troops makes the ultimate sacrifice, but especially at this time of year.  It brings to mind one of my favorite Christmas songs (poem) from one who knew a similar kind of hurt at Christmas during the civil war…

Longfellow wrote in part in his poem Christmas Bells,

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.

 

From Army Times: Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Goble, 33, died Monday from injuries sustained during combat operations the day prior, Army Special Operations Command said in a statement. Pentagon officials said the incident is under investigation.

Goble was a senior intelligence sergeant assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, which is based out of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. This was his third deployment to Afghanistan, in addition to deployments to Argentina, Guatemala, Colombia and South Korea.

“Sgt. 1st Class Goble was more than just a member of the 7th Special Forces Group, he was a brother to us, and a beloved family member to the Northwest Florida community,” said Col. John W. Sannes, 7th Group commander, in a prepared statement.

“We will honor our brother’s sacrifice and provide the best possible care to his family. We ask that you keep his family and teammates in your thoughts and prayers,” Sannes added.

Our hearts and prayers go out to Sgt. 1st Class Goble’s family, team and all our Special Forces community.  Thank you for your incredible service, and for sacrifices that we here at home can’t find words to convey our gratitude.

*Note, it was brought to our attention from Mighty Oaks Warrior Program that the mother of Sgt. Gobles requests that her son’s photo not be shown all over the net. We can definitely understand and honor her family’s wish, so we’ve removed his photo from this page.  

The mother of the Green Beret that died last week requested that there were not photos of her son all over the Internet. We are all are trying to honor this hero in our own way, we will respect her wishes. #hero #warrior

We will remember this family’s sacrifice in our thoughts and prayers. 

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All of us at Positive Heartbeat wish that our troops could be home for Christmas. But they’re engaged with relentless, remorseless enemies who share no common ground with us whatsoever. It would be foolish to expect such enemies to respect Christmas.

Even when there have been common elements of faith or culture, America and her enemies have often fought on Christmas Day. “The Christmas Truce of 1914” was not unique, but it was an exceptionally rare event. Christmas battles are an unhappy part of military reality. It worked to America’s advantage early on …

George Washington took his soldiers across the Delaware River after dark on December 25th, 1776, and marched them all night in freezing rain to capture the British fort at Trenton, New Jersey, which was occupied by Hessian mercenaries hired by Britain to “suppress the revolt”. A thousand Hessians were captured. The dispirited American military, and the American Revolution, had been given a major victory with little cost to Washington’s own troops. Having defeated Washington’s troops several times, the British thought they could stand down for the winter and maybe the harsh winter would finish off the “rebels”. Big mistake. General Washington’s perseverance made the difference. It did help that the Hessians had been boozing it up on Christmas Day, and the American force was 60% greater than the Hessians . 😀 

That victory was immediately followed up by Washington’s troops victory at Princeton, New Jersey, where defeat came so close that General Washington personally led a third wave of troops into the battle. Backed by artillery, his troops finally routed the British and the American Revolution gathered more momentum. Let’s here it for tenacity!

Both the South  and the North  fought on Christmas Day in the War Between the States. The Southern battle referenced was an important Southern victory, but the Northern victory was General Sherman’s capture of Savannah, Georgia, the last major seaport available to the Confederacy. Losing it meant a loss of finances, arms, and other supplies available to the Confederacy. The loss of Savannah, therefore, meant certain eventual doom for the Confederacy.

In World War 2, there was a monumental battle we’ve probably all heard of – “the Battle of the Bulge”, also called “the Battle of the Ardennes”. It was Hitler’s last major offensive on the Western Front. Churchill called this “the greatest American battle of the war”. Although it encompassed Christmas Day, it actually began on December 16th and lasted for six weeks. It was brutal almost beyond belief. The American Army suffered one hundred thousand casualties! Never before or since has one battle caused so many US casualties. The weather was brutal also, causing more than 15,000 “cold injuries – pneumonia, frostbite, “trench foot”. Wouldn’t you know it, during this battle record-breaking low temperatures were recorded: “as we continued north after spending all night in the truck sitting up in what was below zero weather, we started to see our ambulances coming back from the front … We stayed the night in a farm house that had just been liberated by other American forces that we would soon be relieving. The warm accommodations were welcome after two bitter cold days in the truck.”

 The fatigue and harshness of conditions are well described at this link. I recommend that anyone without knowledge of warfare read it before signing up for the military.

And Bastogne. December 1944, the 101st Airborne surrounded by Germans and refusing to surrender. They suffered from cold too.

Every December, Rogers, 96, employs his own standard of measure of how cold it can get. That was the frigid weather that prevailed during the 29 days he and his comrades spent near that small crossroads community, fighting Germans in well-below-freezing temperatures with no gloves for their hands and their feet wrapped in gunnysacks … For battle veterans, it remains a mystery how they survived. ‘I have no idea,’ said Ed Shames, a resident of Virginia Beach, Va., who is Easy Company’s last remaining officer.”

By the way, the all-black 969th Field Artillery Battalion was awarded the first Distinguished Unit Citation ever presented to an all-black unit for their heroic actions in the Battle of the Bulge.

A 10-minute Vietnam Christmas video: pause it at 0:21 for a laugh:

And again at 1:21 for Santa’s opinion, written on the … APC?
And at 5:49 for an Army promise.

I have not been able to find any images or articles on Christmas for troops in Iraq during Desert Storm.

Christmas as a soldier in Afghanistan

To our warriors, wherever you are now: may God guide you and guard you always, wherever you are. We have remembered you before His Throne on Christmas Day, as we promised we would, and many other days as well. God grant that you all come home safely and soon. In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

But no matter how well God guards you, this is what we wish for you all

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