The Library of Congress has a wonderful Veteran’s History Project with interviews and other materials from veterans of every war since World War I.
I looked up interviews from people from the Marine unit my Uncle served in during World War II and found several. It makes for interesting, if horrific, listening. I worked and listened, but at several points, I just listened.
One Marine talked about his harrowing trip in to the beach at Peleliu. His Amtrak almost sank, which would have been a blessing actually, but it made it in. As they jumped out, 19 went over the left (beach side) and 4 – including him – went over the right side. The 19 were machine gunned and killed almost immediately, the 4 made it onto the beach. He then describes his hours on the beach before he finally was blown up, paralyzed, harrowingly transported out to the medical ship, where he eventually recovered.
He never received an award or medal beyond service medals.
Slightly earlier in the war, Lyndon Johnson, a Congressman, but commissioned as a Lt. Commander in the Navy, flew to the South Pacific on a “fact finding” mission. A flight he was scheduled to take, but missed, was attacked by Japanese Zero’s. Gen Douglas MacArthur awarded him the Silver Star, our nation’s 3rd highest award for bravery, for missing a plane ride.
Johnson, narcissistic to the core, wore – with pride – the Silver Star he had not earned on his lapel the rest of his life.
Intersecting both LBJ and the marine’s life is Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur had political ambitions from an early age. He wanted to be in charge of the Army, and after that, well, President, or higher.
So it was natural that MacArthur give a Congressman a medal, he might be useful later. Never mind that awarding the medal in such a fashion cheapens it for all who’d validly earned it before and following – including MacArthur himself (twice).
But what about the Marine? His life was irrevocably altered because MacArthur was slightly worried about his right flank in an assault on the Philippines. Any chance of failure, that might be attributed to MacArthur, must be prevented. In reality, Peleliu was no threat. It was effectively bottled up by American air power. It didn’t need to be taken. But, heck, they weren’t MacArthur’s troops, so he demanded Peleliu be seized as part of his plan to re-capture the Philippines. The result was the highest casualty rate of any action in the Pacific – with 6,500 Marine and 3,000 Army casualties. The island was taken, and then never used again. It’s airfield never supported any actions in the Philippines. Thousands died and suffered only so MacArthur could be slightly less worried about his plans.
LBJ, career enhanced by MacArthur’s narcissism, went on to inflict his own ambitions on the nation, tearing it apart and setting it on a path to financial ruin.
The point… narcissism in our leaders hurts regular people. We are just pawns in their self-centered plans. Do you know anybody who might be guilty of that now? Who do you think they will end up hurting?
A lot of people talk about Constitutional amendments to get rid of this tax, or that policy. But ultimately, I think that unless you get rid of our dangerous narcissistic political class, any Constitution will be ignored (like ours is now). I’m interested in amendments that will clip their wings.
Term limits might help. I like the idea of a Random House added to Congress and filled with randomly selected Americans. Anyway, we need to do something, before their conniving kills us all.
P.S. This tribute to those who fought at Peleliu lists those who really earned their Silver Stars.