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Military History - November 2013 - Letters From Readers

Originally published by Military History magazine. Published Online: September 08, 2013 
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Why Rome Fell
Richard A. Gabriel states in his article "Why Rome Fell" [September] that the Roman empire was antiquity's largest and most powerful state. What about the Han dynasty in China? It was contemporary with the Roman empire, and similar in land mass and population.

George R. Muller
Lambertville, N.J.

Editor responds: Point taken. Both started out with a similar area and population. But as Rome expanded, its area more than doubled and its population swelled to include tens of millions more citizens than those under the Han.

I congratulate Lt. Col. Sharon Tosi Lacey for writing the factual, straightforward account ["Grenada, 1983: Small Island, Big Lessons"] of Operation Urgent Fury, the U.S.-led multinational invasion of Grenada. I was the U.S. Mission/Grenada's public affairs officer and press spokesman during the first two weeks of that operation and learned a lot about civilian-military cooperation in crisis situations.

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Civilian-military cooperation was excellent once Vice Adm. Joseph Metcalf was replaced as commander of the operation. At the outset he appeared to want to refight the Vietnam War by "capturing" journalists who were waiting on the beach in Grenada when his task force landed and taking them out to his flagship "for their own protection." But as most First Amendment proponents know, journalists don't want to be protected; they just want to cover the news.

Obviously, the media situation was quite chaotic when I arrived on the island two days into the operation with two of my U.S. Information Agency colleagues. We quickly made sure that journalists who wanted to cover the story could come to Grenada and organized two daily press briefings with the indispensable cooperation of Army Maj. Gen. Edward Trobaugh, who took over from Metcalf.

President Ronald Reagan had promised to restore conditions under which the Greadians could elect their own leaders, and that's exactly what we did. In fact, for the first and only time in my 28-year diplomatic career, the local citizens protested when we departed.

Guy W. Farmer
U.S. Foreign Service Officer (Ret.)
Carson City, Nev.

Rick Meyerowitz's September 2013 article "Headline Power" was great. During World War II my father saved many tabloid papers. I chuckled when I saw on one saved tabloid front page the title NAZI THUGS FOILED BY ALLIES AS THE KILLER SCORPIONS WERE ROUNDED UP IN A POLICE STING!

Evan Dale Santos
Adelanto, Calif.

Rules of War
The front cover of the July 2013 issue shows a Japanese officer about to behead [Australian POW Sergeant] Leonard Siffleet. Was the Japanese officer identified and hanged after the war?

James McCarthy
Scituate, Mass.

Editor responds: The image depicts Siffleet's Oct. 24, 1943, execution on a beach in Papua New Guinea. Siffleet had been on a three-man reconnaissance mission at the time of his capture; the Japanese executed all three men. Allied soldiers found this photograph on the body of a Japanese major in April 1944. Siffleet's executioner was later identified as officer (possibly a lieutenant) Yasuno Chikao. Chikao's fate is uncertain; contrary reports have him dying during the war or being arrested and sentenced to hang for executing Siffleet, a sentence later commuted to 10 years in prison.

[Re. "Close Call at Chosin," by Thomas E. Ricks, May:] Three generals deserved Medals of Honor for the Pusan Perimeter/Chosin Reservoir campaign: Army General Walton Walker for holding the Pusan Perimeter in the face of impossible odds; Marine Maj. Gen. Oliver P. Smith for wisely refraining from advancing too far into North Korea until he could cover any advance with additional troops and artillery, and his management of the withdrawal to the sea against impossible odds; and General Matthew Ridgway for restoring the morale and fighting ability of the troops after the disastrous Chinese intervention.

Douglas MacArthur did not approve any high medals for them. Instead, he awarded a medal to his flunky, General Edward "Ned" Almond, who contributed nothing useful to the campaign.

Anthony M. Giacobbe
Rahway, N.J.

Send letters to Editor, Military History, Weider History Group, 19300 Promenade Dr., Leesburg, VA 20176 or via e-mail. Please include name, address and phone number.

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