MILITARY HISTORY AS A TRAINING AID
I want to thank the Military History staff for many years of service (indirectly) to the U.S. Army. I have been an avid reader since I first discovered MH while stationed in Korea (October 1999), and your magazine has really made my job as the brigade training NCO that much easier and more enjoyable, since I have been stuck being a brigade trainer/staffer through two military occupational specialties and five brigades. I have been deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and had two Korea rotations, and Military History was always there for me.
What really piqued my interest in writing (at long last) were the two articles I read in the January/February 2006 issue: Sergeant Patrick Gass in “Best Little Stories” and “The Last Highland Charge.” Since I am stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., and an NCO as well as of Scottish ancestry, those stories really brought my mission—to lead and train soldiers—to the forefront and inspired me to work on future training projects for my brigade. Military History has been, for me, the best “open source” material for training NCOs and officers in everything from map reading to decision-making by all ranks and evaluating how to accomplish their missions without wasting the lives of their soldiers. Keep up the good work!
Staff Sgt. Robert D. McMath
525th Military Intelligence Brigade
FRANCE’S DESERT WARS
I just finished reading the submission by Edward L. Bimberg on the 19th-century French campaigns against the Tuareg tribesmen (Military History, January/February 2006). Coverage of this period of history is a little too biased toward the British empire, and it was a very nice change to read about another imperialist power of the time. As an Army National Guard veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I fully appreciate the sacrifices made by those French colonial troops— French and natives—fighting a long, hard, generally forgotten and ultimately vilified campaign in a remote and desolate corner of the world.
Peter A. Robertson
I found “Faceless Warriors of the Sahara” an excellent example of the coverage of lesser-known military events found only in your magazine. However, Fort Lamy (renamed Njamena in 1973) is more than just “the site of an airfield.” It is also the capital of the central African nation of Chad. When I served there as a U.S. Foreign Service information officer in the early 1970s it had a population of nearly 200,000. Today that population is half a million. There is an international and military airport, where I spent many hours waiting to pick up visiting dignitaries. Fort Lamy was one of the three places in Africa where Foreign Legion troops were stationed so they could be speedily dispatched to other areas of the former French empire for pacification duties.
Jonathan F. Orser
I was very curious about the drug ifalezlez with which the Tuareg tribesmen poisoned members of the Flatters expedition in 1880 (“Faceless Warriors of the Sahara”), resulting in “hallucinations and disorientation, not unlike LSD.” An ethnobotanist of the Université Abdelmalek Essadi in Tetouan, Morocco, Abderrahmane Merzouki, identified the common names of the plant as “Falezlez in Arabic and Afalehlé in Berber, and in French Jusquiame flaeslez or jusquiame du désert.” The Latin name is Hyoscyamus. In this country it is commonly known as henbane. All parts of the plant contain scopolamine, atropine and hyoscyamine and can be deadly.
Ken Wolski, Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana
KOREAN HILL FIGHTING
I read with a great deal of interest Peter Johnston’s article about Triangle Hill in the January/February 2006 issue. I was in Korea at the same time as Mr. Johnston, serving as a weapons and rifle platoon leader in Companies K and L, 23rd Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
Only later did I find out about Triangle Hill—we were heavily occupied at the time. We were aware of the impending attack on Whitehorse Mountain and knew there would be an attack on Hill 281, dubbed “Arrowhead Ridge.” I had been wounded in the July 1952 attack on Old Baldy, and had only recently been returned to duty. By early October, I had been transferred to Love Company on Hill 281. The company was understrength, and was replaced by Nan Company of the French Battalion. The French were badly beaten up in the initial attack and were reinforced by my old unit, King Company. We were put in blocking positions, where the only problems were incoming mortar and artillery fire. King, however, was heavily engaged, and I lost a good friend, Lieutenant William “Watt” McKellar, who was awarded the Silver Star for his actions that day.
First Lieutenant Edward R. Schowalter Jr. and I were together at Camp Stoneman, Calif., while we awaited shipment to Korea in March 1952. In 1968 we were neighbors in the Normandy Heights housing area at Fort Bragg, N.C. I met Maj. Gen. Wayne C. “Shaped Charge” Smith at Fort Campbell, Ky., in 1954, when he commanded the 11th Airborne Division.
Franz D. Cone
In his account “Attack on Triangle Hill,” Peter Johnston referred to battlefield illumination having been provided by a U.S. Army Signal Corps unit. As a former field artillery officer, it was my impression that those missions were performed by searchlight batteries, which were artillery units. Until as recently as the early 1970s, at least one such Army Reserve unit still existed at Westminster, Md. Please excuse the nitpicking, because Johnston otherwise did an excellent job of providing a vivid picture of the situation in Korea during that period.
William H. Luzier
Originally published in the May 2006 issue of Military History. To subscribe, click here.