The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson

He was a lieutenant in the Army of the United States: he saw no reason to sit in the back of the bus

ON JULY 6, 1944, Jackie Robinson, a twenty-five-year-old lieutenant, boarded an Army bus at Fort Hood, Texas. Sixteen months later he would be tapped as the man to break baseball’s color barrier, but in 1944 he was one of thousands of blacks thrust into the Jim Crow South during World War II. He was with the light-skinned wife of a fellow black officer, and the two walked half the length of the bus, then sat down, talking amiably.Read more »

Surviving Bataan

After living through America’s worst defeat in World War II and the infamous death march, Army Private Ben Steele started drawing pictures of the images that haunted him.

He is 91 years old now, among the handful of last men surviving from America’s worst military defeat, the fall of the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines during that desperate winter and early spring of 1942.Read more »

Flight Of The Wasp

The Women Airforce Service Pilots seemed strange and exotic to World War II America. In fact, not even the military could quite fiqure out what to do with them.

Curiosity, patriotism, and even a hint of scandal lured the residents of Sweetwater, Texas, to the outskirts of town one April morning in 1943. The townspeople made a day of it, setting out picnic lunches near the military training base at Avenger Field and searching the sky for incoming aircraft. “Cars lined old Highway 80 for two miles in each direction from the Main Gate,” recalled 17-year-old Hershel Whittington. The first sightings came in mid-afternoon, and then dozens of planes, open cockpit and single propeller, began passing over the rolling plains of tumbleweed and cactus beyond town on the way to the base. “Here comes one,” someone shouted. “And here’s another!”

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The Ancient History Of The Internet

Though it appears to have sprung up overnight, the inspiration of free-spirited hackers, it in fact was born in Defense Department Cold War projects of the 1950s

The Internet seems so now, so happening, so information age, that its Gen-X devotees might find the uncool circumstances of its birth hard to grasp. More than anything the computer network connecting tens of millions of users stands as a modern—albeit unintended—monument to military plans for fighting three wars.Read more »

Build-down

After every war in the nation’s history, the military has faced not only calls for demobilization but new challenges and new opportunities. It is happening again.

Not many people appreciate a military base closing. Like the shutting of a factory, it can devastate nearby towns, throwing thousands of people out of work. Merchants face losses and even bankruptcy as sales fall off. Home-owners put their houses on the market at distress prices and sometimes simply walk away from their mortgages. Even long-established military centers are not immune; the current round of closings includes the Mare Island Naval Base near San Francisco, which has operated since 1854. Read more »

The Seventeenth Largest Army

The old Regular Army, part fairy tale and part dirty joke, was generally either ignored or disdained. But its people went about their work with a dogged humdrum gallantry—and when the storm broke, they helped save the world.

 

“What do you want to go back to the Army for?” she cried. “What did the Army ever do for you?”

“What do I want to go back for?” Prewitt said wonderingly. “I’m a soldier. ” Read more »

The Media And The Military

After more than 130 years, the fundamental dispute between the American media and the American military has changed hardly at all. The essential argument is still about access. How much should the press be allowed to know and see of the conduct of battle?Read more »

Shellshock

Let’s call him Frank. “He was in the war” is how adults explained Frank’s odd behavior a generation ago. As he walked through the small town then, his gait was clumsy, his clothes disheveled, and he seemed to go nowhere in particular. One could drive through any part of town and chance to see Frank on the corner, his face at once drawn and blank, as he was waiting to cross a street where the traffic never ceased. Sometimes he carried a paper bag, clutched as though it were filled with precious things.Read more »

The Secret Of The Soldiers Who Didn’t Shoot

Slam Marshall, who is regarded as one of our great military historians, looked into the heart of combat and discovered a mystery there that raised doubts about the fighting quality of U.S. troops. But one GI thought he was a liar…

When Col. Samuel Lyman Marshall came home in 1945, he was one of millions of Americans who had served in the Second World War. Perhaps a third of them had seen combat, and Marshall, as the European theater’s deputy historian, had talked to an unprecedentedly large number of them. In a few months he began the little book that was to make him S. L. A. Marshall, a respected and highly influential military historian.Read more »

The Strategy Of Survival

A lifelong student of military history and affairs says that nuclear weapons have made the idea of war absurd. And it is precisely when everyone agrees that war is absurd that one gets started.

Edward Luttwak is the author of nine books on the art of war, and he pronounces with startling confidence on a great array of events, as the titles of his works suggest. One is The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, another The Grand Strategy of the Soviet Union. His most recent book is last year’s Strategy (Harvard University Press). Read more »