Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Earworm (and News), Sneaky Pete Edition

When I hear a song with this title, on a satellite radio channel dedicated to the 1940s, I think of guys with burnt cork on their faces and blue steel or parkerized daggers, not walking in the park with my sweetie...

Then fact that the song is from 1953, not a decade earlier, doesn't really change much..

Plus, it showed up during my drive to work the same day this showed up in my in-box:
Ham Among Devil’s Brigade Members to Receive Medal
A 90-year-old California radio amateur — Stan McEtchin, WB6KDZ, of Paradise — will be among the surviving members of the First Special Service Force (FSSF) known as “The Devil’s Brigade” to receive the Congressional Gold Medal on February 3. The medal recognizes the unit’s extraordinary heroism and service during World War II.

“We used to go behind the lines at night and sit out there, and we could hear the Germans talking,” McEtchin told The Paradise Post. “Our guy would write it down, so we would find out where their guns were and that kind of thing.”

Montana US Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus worked for 5 years to honor the unit. “The Devil’s Brigade represented the very best of our Greatest Generation that defeated tyranny around the world,” Tester said. “The Medal is the highest honor Congress can bestow, and yet, while a small token of this nation’s gratitude, it is an everlasting reminder of the sacrifices these men made for all of us.” Remarked Baucus, “Without these brave volunteers, there would be no Special Forces today.”

The Devil’s Brigade was based at Fort Harrison in Helena, Montana. It was a top-secret combat unit comprising 1800 volunteers from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. Their training was the first of its kind, specializing in high alpine combat, covert amphibious landings, parachuting, mountain climbing, among other tactics. By the time the war ended, the Force had suffered 2314 casualties, equating to an astounding 134 percent of its original combat strength. It had captured more than 30,000 prisoners, won five US campaign stars and eight Canadian battle honors. The Force never failed a mission.
You may have seen the movie The Devils Brigade, which was Hollywood's take on the First Special Service Forces, and like most Hollywood productions, was less than accurate. Sometimes the inaccuracies are due to an agenda, sometimes because of difficulty filming the truth, and sometimes they are because no one would believe it was true. In this case, maybe a bit of all three...

Officially, the Army's Special Forces trace their lineage to the FSSF, even though there is no actual connection other than the patch ("shoulder sleeve insignia") being similar. The problem is, when the Special Forces were established, the existence of the Office of Strategic Services' (et. al) "Jedburgh Teams" was still highly classified, so rather than just make up a new unit out of whole cloth, the Army decided to pretend that the new unconventional warfare unit with a new mission traced it's existence back to a new-ish unit that had an old mission...

...Which caused complications when the Ranger Regiment was formed, and the obvious regimental-sized basis for it was taken. (Merrill's Marauders, having been a provisional unit, should not have counted for lineage under normal Army rules. Granted we're talking "unconventional" stuff here....)(And Roger's Rangers were British, in case you were wondering.)

While we're on the subject of snoopin' and poopin', this link showed up in my Facebook feed this morning, too: The KA-BAR and the Fairbairn-Sykes: two fighting children of different philosophies | HROARR
(I can see many days being spent clicking links on that site...)

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