Friday, November 11, 2011


I just finished re-reading Gates of Fire for the first time in several years. The most-remembered highlights of the book are the one-liners delivered by Spartans the likes of Dienekes and Leonidas.

This Veteran's Day, go read an interview with a real hero, Silver Star recipient MSgt Robert Blanton, who answers the question "Give us a rundown of the event in which you earned the Silver Star?" thus:
Clearing houses, got ambushed, rammed my vehicle through the house to get one of my team leaders out, got attacked by a suicide bomber, captured a guy and we killed 12.
I believe I get more wound up describing a trip to the grocery store than this man does recounting smashing the gates of hell open with the front bumper of his Humvee.


Bubblehead Les. said...

Well, if you want the LONG Version of any Vets's story that he/she is willing to tell, you need to buy the first round and sit a spell. Personally, speaking only for myself, I like Jim Beam.

"To Absent Friends."

Robert Fowler said...

He's a Marine ReCon Ranger. They are the ones the rest of us Marines look up to. They are the baddest of the bad-asses.

Firehand said...

Only, ah, 'incident' son ever mentioned from first deployment started in a phone call:
Me: How's things in Iraq?
I no longer have a truck.
Me, thinking HIS truck: What? It's in the drivew-
My truck HERE.
Me: oh. What happened?
It blew up.
Just a general "Had an interesting breakdown" thing. Yeah, that was a fun time to be stuck on the road and unable to pull over.

Seems for most, the nastier something was the less likely they are to talk about it, and the less descriptive when they do.

Lergnom said...

My dad(WWII vet) was like that, too. No problem talking about his 3 days AWOL in Paris with what turned out to be his Captain's jeep, but we had to hear from his brothers about how he worked behind the line with resistance people.

Ed Rasimus said...

Surprisingly that Silver Star question is one I've never encountered. I'm not sure that many people today even know the significance of the decoration. Did folks recognize it when the grizzled old guy in Gran Torino played by Clint Eastwood looks at the medal?

The story is told in "When Thunder Rolled" in Chap 15, "Hits and Misses". I was Laredo Two.

Shy Wolf said...

True to the unwritten code of real heroes, MSgt Blanton is a man of action and few words.
'Nuff said.
Have a wonderful Veteran's Day, Tam, and all you vets who drop in to visit. May your bayonets always be sharp and your aim true.

Anonymous said...

Not only is Blanton a hero but a dedicated family man with a wife and two kids.

Really good write up, Tam.

Nathan said...

Dad acknowledged that he had visited Dachau after liberation. Apparently the Army wanted as many soldiers as possible to witness the aftermath of the atrocities.

But that was all he would say about it, and I never pushed.

Bram said...

I lol'ed at the part where the Haji couldn't open the truck doors. Nobody can open those damn things.

Anonymous said...

Governments like to parade heroes about to rally support for the war (think War Bond drives). Problem is that real heroes make terrible spokesmen because they usually don't like to talk about it.

Earl said...

Well, after your trip to the grocery and then writing it up you can relax and get on with your normal life. After he gets done with what they awarded him the Silver Star, he gets to get ready to do it all again, on the way back to base, at the base, leaving the base, on patrol, back to base, at the base, leaving the base, on patrol, back to base, at the base...

wv dogne (exactly! Google strikes agin')

Goober said...

Macedonian king to Spartans (heavily paraphrased to get the jist, since I forget the actual quote):

"If my armies come to Sparta, your women will be slaves, your homes will be burned, and Psarta will be left a ruin. No spartan man will be left alive. The very history books will forget that Sparta ever existed."

Spartan reply:


Now THAT is Laconic. In fact, the term "Laconic" comes from the fact that the Spartans did not know themselves as Spartans, but rather called themselves "Lacedomonians". They became so famous for their short, pithy, and meaningful replies that they actually came up witht he term "Laconic" to describe how a Spartan cooresponded.

Tam said...


Yes, I know. :)

Tennessee Budd said...

Bravo Zulu, MSgt Blanton! God bless & keep you.

Anonymous said...

Thermopylae was a must-see when I was in Greece. Stood on the little hill and read the plaque:

"Go tell the Spartans thou who passest by,
that here obedient to their laws we lie."


Firehand said...

I cannot remember where I read it, a line in a book about 'proper' heroes to choose for a war bond drive:
"Most of the real heroes I've known are ugly, drink, and will grab that cute reporter by the ass instead of standing there looking heroic."