About French MacLean

Dying Hard

It won’t be long before I turn in the finished book, Dying Hard, to the editors at Schiffer Publishing, who will work their magic to turn it into something you will love to read.  So what is it all about?  In short, the story is about one tiny American Army infantry company that fought for our country for several years in World War II.  But it’s a lot more than that.

Once upon a time, the forces of evil came within a razor’s edge of plunging the world into a second Dark Age.  Many, many nations answered the call to defend civilization, but only one – the United States of America – could tip the balance of fate to victory for the defenders of what was good and right.  And she did.

America won the war with a huge industrial base.  She won it with a unity of effort seldom seen before and never seen since.  She won it by bringing women and minorities into the war effort.  She won it with magnificent technology.  She won it with a few senior leaders in each military service and in Washington who had the remarkable foresight to comprehend the new character of this war and how it would be conducted.  But most of all she won it with a bunch of boys who stood on God-forsaken battlefields around the world and in their own brazen and cocky manner snarled at their foe: “Not today Tojo; not today Benito; not today Adolf.  Not today, not tomorrow; not ever.  To get to where you want to go, Adolf, you have to go through us.  And that ain’t happening.”

The cost of that victory was monumental – which is why we have so many monuments around the world to remember their sacrifice.  Unlike in many other nations, however, most of America’s monuments are not triumphal arches or palisaded promenades, but rather her military cemeteries, unfortunately filled to the brim with her heroes.  In World War II the United States of America lost 407,316 military dead – enough that almost every city, town, and village lost loved ones.  As to civilian deaths worldwide, the slaughter estimates range from 45 million to 95 million – and the only reason America did not suffer millions of civilian deaths at home is because these same young Americans stopped the enemy before they could get here.

There have been thousands of books written about the war, maybe tens of thousands, based primarily on records and reports, and the accounts of senior officers.  And many are excellent.  But there has always been a problem.  The enlisted men and women of America who fought World War II were notoriously reticent about discussing their experiences.  Called “The Greatest Generation,” they should also have been dubbed “The Silent Generation.”  Not only were they closed-mouthed, many seemed proud that they “wouldn’t talk” to the extent that children and grandchildren, maybe even you, of these soldiers came to the conclusion that even if they waterboarded “Old Gramps” – which they would never do to such a beloved person – he wasn’t talking, so why bother because everyone was just going to get wet.

Maybe it was because my father was so closed mouthed about the war that I wrote this book.  Once in a while, you could get a few grunts and groans out of the old man if you were lucky, but he was of the mind that the war was a chapter of life already finished and better off not to be re-read.  My brother and I would get a hint of his experiences when Dad stormed into our bedrooms each school-day morning, screaming at the top of his lungs in German to get out of bed, turning on every light, throwing back the curtains and, when he was in a particularly charitable mood, opening the windows all the way on frosty-cold mornings to ensure that you got out of bed – quickly.

Dad had spent some “quality time” as a prisoner of war (POW) at some place in Germany called Stalag VI G and obviously wanted his two sons – who had designs on attending West Point – to get used to catching hell like he did every morning there at that camp when a German sergeant did the same thing.

We are going to try to get their story right, in spite of their reluctance in life to talk much about the war.  Of course, each one would insist that we not talk about his own efforts, but remember his buddies instead, saying that they were the real heroes, and what they were able to accomplish together.  All were unique, and it was this individuality that made every other soldier better.

“A soldier can be a hero and a hero can be a legend and a legend can make a superman out of a soldier.”  You will read about all about that; in fact, the intent of Dying Hard is to put you right alongside of the soldiers of Company B, 39th Infantry Regiment – in the same foxhole.  You’ll start your journey at Fort Bragg, North Carolina where the division is formed.  Then its’ off to England in 1942 and then we’re all going to Algeria, Tunisia and Sicily; we’ll see combat in each.  After that it’s Normandy, France, and then we’ll head east to Belgium.  This fighting is tough, but you’ll think the war will be over by Christmas.  It won’t be.  Your next stop is the Hürtgen Forest.  If you survive that, and a lot of us didn’t, it’s on to another miserable place, the Hohes Venn.  Then it’s Merode Castle (see photo above) and then Elsenborn Ridge in the Battle of the Bulge.  The castle, built in 1263, has five-story towers, and a wide moat with 7-foot-deep, cold water.  There is one entrance – a narrow bridge twelve feet wide, covered by machine gun fire.  Getting into that castle, borrowing a phrase from poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, you will be “stormed at with shot and shell.”

In January 1945 we’ll try and get warm and attack the vaunted Siegfried Line, where concrete bunkers have machine guns we call “Hitler’s buzz saws” or “Kraut bone saws” and when you hear them firing, you’ll know why.  Then you’ll see the inside of a German POW camp.  You’ll lose a lot of weight, be infested with fleas and lice, suffer constant diarrhea, get no hot showers, sleep three to a bunk, and see guys drop from typhus – while angry guard dogs try to bite you.

Meanwhile, Company B keeps fighting to the end of the war in Europe.  It is a rough time and casualties continue at an alarming rate right through the end and a lot of our buddies died.  After that, however, everyone did not just pack up their gear and head home.  What would happen with Japan, how long will the occupation of Germany last, what is the system for a soldier to return home?  Finally, there is a Conclusion and Epilogue; save them for last.  Some of the book is sad; but much is funny, which could be offensive to some readers.  But no less an authority than famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle had this to say about humor in war.

“It would be wrong to say that war is all grim; if it were, the human spirit could not survive two and three and four years of it… As some soldier once said, the Army is good for one ridiculous laugh per minute.  Our soldiers are still just as roughly good-humored as they always were, and they laugh easily, although there isn’t as much to laugh about as there used to be.”

At the end of most chapters you will find a total of over fifty special topics under the category of “School of the Soldier,” an old Army term that has to do with teaching a soldier the really important stuff in the Army and how to survive, so you can tell their story when they wouldn’t.

History is the oxygen for storytelling; and storytelling is the essence of humanity.  Once upon a time, your father, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers became part of that history which fueled a legend that should never die – in part because so many of them did.  Your mother, grandmothers and great-grandmothers were legends too, sometimes in combat areas – such as the Philippines, where 77 Army nurses, the “Angels of Bataan and Corregidor,” were forced by the enemy on a 68-mile “death march” without food or water in 100-degree temperatures – or back home working in dangerous factory jobs building the Arsenal of Democracy.  Now it is up to you whether that legend is passed down to your children and grandchildren, or whether you let that legend die.  Because legends don’t die with a bang; they die with a whimper.

You might ask: “Why is it up to me to keep their story alive?”  Because you would fit right in with us in Company B.  How do we know?  When something in life knocks you down, and you get back up on your feet, wipe the blood off your nose with your sleeve, and say: “Is that all you’ve got?” you’re in Company B.  If people have told you that you were too small, or too slow or too anything, and you went out and proved them wrong, you’re in Company B.  If you ever saw someone bullied by a group of people bigger than you and you jumped in to help that person, you’re in Company B.

You love dogs?  In 1942, a young soldier found a stray dog in the Aleutian Islands, and took care of him until he was reassigned to the States.  Putting the dog, named Buff, in his duffel bag, the trooper took him on the journey.  Months later the soldier climbed aboard a troopship – Buff hidden again in his duffle bag – and went to Europe and Company B, where Buff served as a mascot and helped pull guard duty.  So if you love dogs, you’re in Company B.  And if you love to read a book about American soldiers, then you’re in Company B, too.  So rise and shine, grab your helmet and follow us.  And make sure your M1 Rifle is loaded because we’re going back to the line.


Dying Hard2023-03-24T18:56:02-06:00

My Friend Eric Paternoster

My friend and West Point classmate, Eric Paternoster, died about three weeks ago.  We had known each other since 1970 when we entered the US Military Academy and were assigned to Company A-2.  Attended his Celebration of Life ceremony in Cincinnati last Friday and wrote down some of my thoughts on him.

A Man for All Seasons

As we look back at Eric Paternoster, it would be quite understandable to call him a “Renaissance Man” – someone with extraordinarily broad and comprehensive knowledge, and with expertise in multiple disciplines.  That was certainly true for Eric, who graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1974, served as an airborne, ranger, infantry officer, earned a graduate degree from the University of Cincinnati, and worked as a senior consultant with Accenture, followed by Ernst & Young, and finally with Infosys as the CEO of Infosys Public Services.  A “Renaissance Man”?  Certainly.

Sir Thomas More

But Eric was much more.  Five-hundred years ago, author Robert Whittington coined the phrase “A Man for All Seasons” describing Sir Thomas More, venerated in the Catholic Church as Saint Thomas More, an English lawyer, judge, social philosopher, author, and statesman – and perhaps most importantly a man who stood up to King Henry VIII, and for this offense was beheaded.  It is said that the executioner was so distraught that he begged for More’s pardon before carrying out his grim task.  To Whittington, “A Man for All Seasons” was a person ready to take on whatever life threw at him; a person suited for all occasions; who does not get flustered easily, but keeps a calm, efficient demeanor; a person who has proven to be extremely reliable and trustworthy; acts with grace and aplomb, but never demands to be the center of attention; and perhaps most importantly, follows their conscience, and acts correctly even when others may choose a less honorable path.

Duty, Honor, Country

In 1970, after completing Beast Barracks at West Point, Eric and roughly thirty other classmates reported to their new home, Company A of the 2nd Regiment Corps of Cadets.  One of their first orders of business was to elect their class honor code representative who would instruct and lead them over the next four years in a code of conduct that simply states: “A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do.”  The penalty for failing to follow the code was equally simple; a cadet could be expelled from the Corps.  Eric firmly believed in the honor code and believed all should follow it.  Eric also believed it was his duty to explain the code fully to all cadets and to also fight for any cadet that Eric – following his conscience – believed did not willfully commit an honor violation.

Regulations were another matter.  Eric was of the belief that the new Monday Night Football program was almost a Constitutional right to watch – even if the end of that game came after Taps, and thus there were numerous occasions when he was apprehended in the company dayroom, game on and lights off.  And more than once, when Eric was caught in this abhorrent transgression, he refused to divulge who might or might not have been watching the game with him, but who had scampered behind a large couch and avoided apprehension, while Eric took the rap.

National boundaries could not contain this “Man for All Seasons.”  With Infosys Public Services, Eric helped fuse American and Indian knowhow, culture and intellect – along with expertise from personnel of several other nations – to forge boundaryless public sector synergies.  Eric would leave no stone unturned and once his vision included taking a large number of company employees to the Gettysburg Civil War Battlefield in southern Pennsylvania.  However, rather than simply describing a military engagement from some 159 years ago – the technology and tactics having little to do with today – Eric used the past to stimulate a day-long examination of the future for Infosys: who in the organization was monitoring the technology of present and future competitors?  How does an organization train, develop and retain quality employees and prepare them to be future leaders?  How do leaders transmit and ensure understanding of their vision of success to the entire organization?

And like every person for all seasons, Eric would be the first to credit others for his own success: his West Point classmates; his Army comrades; his business associates all along the way; his beloved University of Cincinnati; his family; and most of all his wonderful wife Diana Paternoster (nee Coleman).

Eric, we miss you in so many ways.  But we also thank God for the opportunity of having you in our lives.  Pride of the Corps.  As for everyone who never met Eric, I would submit this old poem by Rudyard Kipling that captured our friend in so many ways.  It is called If.


If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!


My Friend Eric Paternoster2023-02-14T18:00:09-06:00

Don’t Pull the Switch

I used to be a big believer in the death penalty.  And I still believe that there are some really bad people out there who don’t deserve to live among us.  So in defending yourself, and your loved ones against a murderer who would take your lives, well if he takes his last breath in that attempt that’s just too bad for him.

As for the government using the judicial system to put someone to death, I don’t agree with that anymore.  First, you can’t “undo” the death penalty, if you later find out that the guy you just fried in the electric chair didn’t actually do the crime.  If the accused is convicted and gets a long prison sentence, you can let him out later if you discover he is actually not guilty, and at least try to make amends for the error by paying him and his family an extremely large amount of money; it will never make up for the lengthy incarceration, but at least his later years will not be in poverty.

Juries make mistakes.  Prosecuting attorneys and defense counsels have various degrees of competence and make mistakes too.  Judges’ rulings often later get overturned.  Even the vaunted US Supreme Court frequently has 5-4 decisions – meaning that 44.44% of the justices had the “wrong” legal opinion from the majority.  If 44.44% of our juries convicted the wrong guy and sentenced him to death, we would stop the death penalty immediately.

US Supreme Court

Secondly, law-abiding citizens, whether in the jury, or prison guards, or the few actually involved in the execution process, often suffer terrible mental duress for the remainder of their lives – even concerning executions where there is never any doubt as to the accused’s guilt.  Yes, there are some who will “sleep like a baby” but others won’t.  And that’s not an opinion; I was fortunate enough to be able to review 96 death penalty cases in the US Army in Europe in World War II, when writing The Fifth Field, and numerous military police involved in the executions had terrible emotional issues later – with at least one tough MP sergeant, Richard Mosley, later committing suicide.

Richard Mosley

But most troubling, charging someone with a capital crime – a capital crime is one for which you could possibly receive the death penalty – is often a matter of prosecutorial discretion.  The prosecutor can put the death penalty into the realm of possible punishments, or he can “take it off the table.”  That is a difficult decision for any prosecutor, and some are simply not up to it.  Most alarmingly, we are seeing that more and more prosecutors are using factors of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and even political affiliation in their decisions of whom to charge – or not to charge.  That is bad enough concerning crimes that carry potential incarceration.  But using those factors in such a way for a prosecutor to put his or her thumb on the scales of justice concerning the death penalty is unconscionable.

Do you really think that the current State’s Attorney Office for Cook County, Illinois, doesn’t often have their entire hand on the scales of justice – let alone thumb?  Even the Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association and the National District Attorneys Association ripped into Kim Foxx’s decisions in the Jussie Smollett case.

Ferguson Riots

Do you really think that politics didn’t play a role in determining who should be charged concerning the 2014 disturbances/riots/unrest/uprising in Ferguson, Missouri?  Even the US Department of Justice couldn’t get to the bottom of it, ruling on one hand that Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown in self-defense, while also determining that the Ferguson Police Department had engaged in misconduct against the citizenry of Ferguson by, among other things, discriminating against African Americans and applying racial stereotypes in a “pattern or practice of unlawful conduct.”

Do you really think that politics and political affiliation are currently not playing a factor concerning the participants in the January 6, 2021 incident at the US Capitol?  Congress has talked about treason – a crime that could carry the death penalty.  And according to Time Magazine, some 17 months after the event, 840 people had been arrested.  But only 25% had received criminal sentences, while 75% were still awaiting trials or had not finalized plea agreements.  Only 80 of those arrested had been sentenced to terms of incarceration!  The median prison sentence of those 80, as of June 2022, was – get this – 45 days.  An additional 57 were sentenced to periods of home detention.  That doesn’t sound like death penalty material to me.

World War II Hangings

However, if some politicians and states attorneys have their say, EVERYONE in the Capitol that day would be strung up on nearby light posts.  No one should have that much power.  We need to do away with the death penalty – before people get executed for their political beliefs.

Don’t Pull the Switch2023-01-22T17:42:47-06:00

The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ

Starting in 1963, and continuing to this day, it has become fashionable to disparage everyone who takes an alternative view about an historical event by calling them “A Conspiracy Nut,” or words to that effect.  But always remember, just because something is a conspiracy theory doesn’t mean it wasn’t an actual conspiracy.   If you are one of those that believe everything a network talking head, reading off a teleprompter, tells you, or blows with the winds of popular thought, or who couldn’t follow a line of florescent dots on the floor leading to the bathroom even if you had rampant diarrhea, you need to know that generally if you can reason, think logically, and can connect dots to solve difficult puzzles, you will generally do better in life than if you are unable, or worse unwilling, to do so, because that often translates into being a pawn for those who will take advantage of you.  I hope that I have some small ability to “connect the dots” to find out what really happened in history, especially involving significant crimes.

Part of that stems from serving in the Army, during which I was lucky enough to carry out a tour as an Inspector General for the United States Army Europe – often investigating situations that involved complex facts and human behavior, which often follows patterns of great repetition.  I also have been flat lucky enough to run into evidence and documents that for whatever reason should have been in the public domain, but were not – the most significant of I was able to turn into a book, The Fifth Field: The Story of the 96 American Soldiers Sentenced to Death and Executed in Europe and North Africa in World War II.  If you have followed this website even briefly, you know this work deals with how 96 American soldiers in Europe and North Africa were tried by American General Courts-Martial, convicted by military juries, sentenced to death, executed and buried in an obscure, secret plot at an American military cemetery in France.

While after the book was published, the court-martial records were transferred from a closet to the National Archives, it still appears that one needs a special permission to actually visit the section at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial outside Seringes-et-Nesles, France.  If you visited there, and were given permission to see the special field where these men are buried, please email me with that information, and I shall include that.

My discovery, however, of what really happened in those significant events pales in comparison to The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, by Roger Stone.  Now, let us address the obvious: if you do not like Roger Stone, you may use that bias to disbelieve anything and everything he writes or says.  That would be unfortunate for you.

I believe that Stone would never claim to be a professional author, even though he has written six other books, writing has not been his life’s primary work; to make sure he obtained the correct flow, sequencing, level of support documentation and so forth, he enlisted Mike Colapietro, who not only is an excellent writer, but also had practical law enforcement, serving in the Office of the Chief of Staff at the Broward Sheriff’s Office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Meanwhile Stone, the consummate political insider, talked to numerous government officials during his career beginning in 1972.  Fascinated by the assassination – as were a lot of people our age (Roger is 69; I am 70) since about 1972, he would always ask guys about it, as he did favors for them, including some really high guys.  One “suggested” he not put anything in writing until the 50th anniversary, 2013, when all the folks talking would be dead by then!!!

Stone and Colapietro began this story with a time-tested truism for a murder investigator’s first question, cui bono (who benefits)?  In most cases, that may come to be a life insurance policy with the killer is the beneficiary, or killing a spouse to avoid alimony payments, or the killing of a witness by a defendant in another criminal case so that person cannot testify against the perpetrator.

Stone and Colapietro then expanded that to: who had the most to gain from Kennedy’s death at this moment in 1963, and conversely, who had the most to lose by a second John F. Kennedy presidential term beginning in 1965?  The answers soon became obvious, and maybe you already know the following:

  • Vice-President Johnson wanted to become President, hopefully running in 1968 after John Kennedy’s second term in office. However, Johnson became convinced that Kennedy was planning to dump him from the ticket prior to the election in 1964.  Even worse, law enforcement was closing in on Johnson for several instances of graft and bribery – charges that might go public and lead to an indictment before the end of 1963.  After Johnson assumed the Presidency, the charges went away.  Cui bono?
  • President Kennedy had informed the chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), J. Edgar Hoover, that he would face mandatory retirement from that position in 1965. Hoover joined the Justice Department in 1917 and was named director of the Department’s Bureau of Investigation in 1924, which later became the FBI.  Hoover wanted to remain in the job, but was not supported in that request by his immediate boss, Robert F. Kennedy, the U.S. Attorney General and the President’s younger brother.  Vice-President Johnson supported Hoover as FBI chief, and Hoover remained in that position until 1972.  Cui bono?
  • The Mafia provided valuable support at the request to Joe Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s father, especially in West Virginia and Illinois, in the 1960 election of Kennedy. However, after assuming office, not only did President Kennedy not turn a blind eye toward Mafia activities, he appointed his younger brother Robert as U.S. Attorney General.  Bobby was an existential enemy of the Mafia.  In 1962 alone, Robert Kennedy touted the fact that prosecutions for racketeering by his Organized Crime Section in the Justice Department rose by 300 percent above 1961 and convictions of organized criminals grew by 350 percent.  Kennedy left the Attorney General position just ten months after his brother was killed.  Cui bono?

Using that as a guidepost, the authors concluded that in the end, Vice-President Lyndon Johnson leveraged his personal connections in Texas; and from nationwide organized crime (the Mafia,) and from the federal government – specifically the FBI and the CIA – to form a conspiracy to murder President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.  And he used his influence to personally select the subsequent Warren Commission that would cover up the participants in that crime.

But you don’t have to just take my word for it.  Here are some other comments.  Because far too many people pre-judge a person’s opinion based on political leanings, race, creed, religion or other characteristic, I have omitted names and used only titles.

“A consummate political insider, Roger Stone views the JFK assassination through the prism of a murder investigator’s first question, cui bono (who benefits)?  Stone’s shocking answer is that the primary suspect has been hiding in plain sight for 50 years: LBJ.  A riveting account.” – Former U.S. Attorney

“Any serious student of politics or history should read Roger Stone’s stunning new book The Man Who Killed Kennedy.” – Judge

“Roger Stone nails LBJ for JFK murder!” – Journalist, Filmmaker

“Stone’s book will change American history forever!” – Historian

Do yourself a favor that will change your viewpoint, because the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 fundamentally changed this country, and not for the better.  Read The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.

The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ2022-04-18T14:58:25-06:00

Tom Ward

Tom Ward and the author

Thomas J. Ward, 96, of New Cumberland, passed away on Sunday, December 19, 2021 in his residence with his loving family at his side.  He was retired from the New Cumberland Army Depot, and was formerly a Foreman with Miller & Norford Construction Contractors, Lemoyne.  Tom attended Christian Life Assembly, Camp Hill; was a member of the Order of the Purple Heart; and a master craftsman working with wood, stone and small engines.  Anyone who needed anything fixed would bring it to Tom.  He was born in Lemoyne, the son of the late John C. and Edith (Grey) Ward.  He was also preceded in death by a daughter and a son, Jonette Ward and Jeffrey Martin and siblings, Elva, Romaine, Vance, Tennis, Robert, Margaret, Richard and Preston.  Tom is survived by his loving wife of more than 43 years, Winifred (Shuff) Ward; children, Thomas J. Ward, Jr. of Coudersport, Barbara Fontaine of Athol, ID, John Ward of Camp Hill, Christine McGee of Harrisburg and Karen Martin of Mechanicsburg; grandchildren, Allen, Thomas, Tony, John, Lainie, Cameron, Jeremy, Joshua, Heather and Taylor; thirteen great grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren.  Funeral services were held on Monday, December 27, 2021 in Parthemore Funeral Home & Cremation Services, New Cumberland.

Born on June 9, 1925 at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Tom enlisted on September 2, 1943 and was assigned to Company I, 23rd Infantry Regiment in the Second U.S. Infantry Division.  An Infantry sergeant, Tom was decorated with four Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge and numerous campaign awards, having served in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Ardennes-Alsace.  After his fourth wound, he departed the 2nd Infantry Division in 1945 and reported to the Loire Disciplinary Training Center, where he served as the supply sergeant.

Loire Disciplinary Training Center.  Sergeant Tom Ward on left

At Le Mans, Tom was John Woods, the U.S. Army hangman in Europe, closest friend, often going downtown in the evening for a beer together, although they never discussed at the pubs what happened inside the center.  He recalled that the day before each execution, Woods would walk to the supply room to get the rope and black hood that would be used in the upcoming event; a new rope was used for each hanging, although Woods would use each black hood several times.  He also recalled that many of the executions occurred just before noon, when many of the men in the stockade – not involved in the execution – were standing in line outside the mess hall for lunch, and when the trap door opened, the motion was so violent and unique that the loud noise could be heard throughout the DTC and this distinctive sound spoiled many a man’s appetite.  Later, Master Sergeant Woods even asked Tom to be his assistant hangman, but the quiet sergeant from Pennsylvania had seen enough death and declined.

Without his help, American Hangman could not have been written.  But in addition to his historical knowledge, Tom was one of the most decent human beings I have ever known.  A tough soldier, he unleashed hell on a German defensive position after one of his men had been killed in the ongoing combat.  And later, Tom once knocked out a fellow American sergeant with one punch for calling him a REMF.  But Tom also had compassion for everyone he met in life who had things harder than he did.  During the war, Thomas Ward broke regulations and gave army blankets to refugees he met on his supply runs from Le Mans to Le Havre during the cold winter of 1944-45, and seventy years after the war ended, he was still hopeful that they had survived and went on to have a happy life.

Congratulations Sergeant Ward.  Yours was a life well-lived.

Tom Ward2022-04-18T14:55:56-06:00

Is Dr. Anthony Fauci Really a Dr. Josef Mengele?

Josef Mengele

A new book The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., says that Dr. Anthony Fauci is America’s Joseph Mengele for what he did to poor orphan minority kids in the 1980s, specifically that Dr. Fauci tested harsh chemotherapy drugs on orphan children in order to determine their potential for AIDS treatments; that he got control of foster homes in 7 states that served as sources for the youngsters; that these children were denied guardians and any kind of legal protector; that most of the children did not have HIV/AIDS, they were just used as guinea pigs to see if they could survive the harsh drug regimen; and that as a result, at least 85 children died as part of these experiments.

The selection ramp at Auschwitz. The column on the left will head directly to the gas chambers. The column on the right will enter the camp and be worked to death. Mengele is the officer in the right-center.  He is looking for twins.

I do not know how true these allegations are, but I do know who Dr. Josef Mengele was and you should know about him also or this comparison means nothing.

Josef Mengele, also known as the “Angel of Death,” was a German Waffen-SS captain and physician during World War II.  For decades after the war, and continuing today in some circles, the fable has remained alive that the SS personnel who served in the concentration camps were somehow different from their honorable brethren, who fought at the frontline in the Waffen-SS, in units.  Thus, those in the combat units have earned a pass from some historians, who believed the former Waffen-SS General Paul Hausser story Soldaten wie andere auch (Soldiers Like Any Other.)

But Hausser was incorrect.  As The Camp Men demonstrates with irrefutable proof from the official SS personnel file for each officer, almost half of the concentration camp officers also served in Waffen-SS combat divisions.  Mengele served in the 5th Waffen-SS Division in Russia.

But the real shocker is how many physicians, like Mengele, in Germany supported the Nazi Party.  More than 38,000 doctors, nearly half of all the physicians in Germany, joined the Nazi Party.  None were forced to join; they saw it as an opportunity to advance their careers.  At least 316 doctors served in the concentration camps, as well as at least 57 dentists.

Before the war, Mengele had received doctorates in anthropology and medicine, and began a career as a researcher.  He joined the Nazi Party in 1937 and the SS in 1938.  In early 1943, assigned to the Auschwitz concentration camp, he saw the opportunity to conduct genetic research on human subjects.  His experiments focused primarily on twins, with no regard for their health or safety; many died.  Mengele later served at the Gross-Rosen concentration camp.  But don’t take it from me; here are a few quotes from The Angel of Death:

“It would not be humanitarian to send a child to the ovens without permitting the mother to be there to witness the child’s death.”  The ovens here refer to the crematoria at Auschwitz, where the dead were burned.

“I don’t have anything to hide.  Terrible things happened at Auschwitz, and I did my best to help.  One could not do everything.  There were terrible disasters there.  I could only save so many.  I never killed anyone or hurt anyone.”

“Scientists have always been able to study twins after they have been born together.  But only in the Third Reich can Science examine twins who have died together.”

SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Mengele; Mengele served in the 5th Waffen-SS Division Wiking, winning the Iron Cross 1st Class, before transferring to Auschwitz and subsequently Gross-Rosen.  

Josef Mengele drowned in 1979 after suffering a stroke while swimming off the coast of Bertioga, Brazil and was buried under the false name of Wolfgang Gerhard.  Dozens of Nazi doctors did not escape justice and were hanged after the war for Crimes Against Humanity.  You can read about some of them in American Hangman.

Maybe Anthony Fauci had nothing to do with the orphans and AIDS experiments on children at all; if so, Mr. Kennedy owes him an immense apology.  Maybe Dr. Fauci did play a role, but believed that their suffering, and the death of many of them, would do a greater good for mankind as a whole.  But as the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in Nuremberg, Germany showed after the war, their are limits to medical experimentation covered in Crimes Against Humanity.  And if the allegations in Kennedy’s book are accurate, in my opinion those experiments were clearly in in violation of that category.

If you have any actual information about the New York experiments, you can stand up for these kids — who could not stand up for themselves.  If you are reluctant to contact Children’s Health Defense at 1227 North Peachtree Pkwy, Suite 202 in Peachtree City, GA 30269 at 202-618-2477, contact this website and I’ll forward your evidence.

Is Dr. Anthony Fauci Really a Dr. Josef Mengele?2022-02-16T18:27:21-06:00

Simon Wiesenthal

I was just reorganizing my desk and found some photographs almost twenty years old.  One was a picture from July 2002 when I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Simon Wiesenthal in his office in Vienna.

Nazi hunter

Simon Wiesenthal (above in his later years) was born on December 31, 1908, in Buchach, in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  His father was a wholesaler, who had left Russia in 1905 to escape the anti-Jewish pogroms.  The elder Wiesenthal was called to active duty in 1914 in the Austro-Hungarian Army at the start of World War I; he was killed in action on the Eastern Front in 1915.  Simon, his younger brother and his mother fled to Vienna, when the Russian Army overran Galicia.  In the ebb and flow of war, the family returned to Buchach in 1917, after the Russians retreated.  Simon attended the Czech Technical University in Prague, where he studied from 1928 until 1932.  After graduating, he became a building engineer, working mostly in Odessa in 1934 and 1935.  The next six years are unclear, concerning Wiesenthal’s life; he married in 1936, when he returned to Galicia.

After the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941, Wiesenthal’s mother came to live with him and his wife in Lvov.  Wiesenthal, a Jew, was detained by German authorities on July 6, 1941, but was saved from an Einsatzgruppe firing squad by a Ukrainian man, for whom he had previously worked.  German police deported Wiesenthal and his wife in late 1941 to the Janowska labor and transit camp and forced to work at the Eastern Railway Repair Works.  Every few weeks the Nazis would conduct a selection of Lvov Jewish Ghetto inhabitants unable to work.  In one such deportation, Wiesenthal’s mother was transported by freight train to the Belzec extermination camp and killed in August 1942.  On April 20, 1943, Wiesenthal avoided execution at a sand pit by firing squad, when at the last moment a German construction engineer intervened, stating that Wiesenthal was too skilled to be killed.

On October 2, 1943, the same German warned Wiesenthal that Janowska and its prisoners were about to be liquidated.  Wiesenthal was able to sneak out of camp and remained free until June 13, 1944, when Polish detectives arrested him in Lvov.  With Russian troops advancing, the SS moved Wiesenthal and other Jews by train to Przemyśl, 135 miles west of Lvov, where they built fortifications for the Germans.  In September 1944, the SS transferred the surviving Jews to the Płaszów concentration camp in Krakow.  One month later, Wiesenthal was transferred to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp.  While working at a rock quarry there, Wiesenthal was struck on the foot by a large rock, which resulted in the amputation of the large toe on his right foot.  The advancing Russian Army forced the evacuation of Gross-Rosen; Wiesenthal and other inmates marched by foot to Chemnitz.  From Chemnitz, the prisoners were taken in open freight cars to Buchenwald.  A few days later, trucks took the prisoners to the Mauthausen concentration camp, arriving in mid-February 1945.   When the camp was liberated by American forces in May 1945, Wiesenthal weighed 90 pounds.

Wiesenthal dedicated most of his life to tracking down and gathering information on fugitive Nazis.  His goal was to bring as many conspirators to the “Final Solution” as possible to justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  In 1947, Simon Wiesenthal co-founded the Jewish Historical Documentation Center in Linz, Austria, in order to gather information for future war crime trials. He later opened the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna.  Wiesenthal was instrumental in the capture and conviction of Adolf Eichmann.

Visiting Mr. Wiesenthal in Vienna, 2002

The author interviewed Simon Wiesenthal at his small office in the Jewish Documentation Center in central Vienna in July 2002.  During the visit, Mr. Wiesenthal said that there was one thing wrong with his book, The Camp Men.  Dismayed, French waited for the explanation.  “You were born 50 years too late.  You found how to look through their officer files to prove they had been in the camps, while I had to rely on eye-witnesses.  If you had been there to help me back then, I would have found more.  But you weren’t born yet!”

Wiesenthal wrote The Sunflower, which describes a life-changing event he experienced when he was in the camp.  He died in Vienna on September 20, 2005; his remains are buried at Herzliya, Israel.

Simon Wiesenthal2021-12-24T11:02:23-06:00

Dare to Dream

Luis Ángel Colón World Record Cuatro

Sometimes you run across a person with a special talent, and even if you don’t know that individual well, you want success for them.  Such is the case of Luis Ángel Colón, whom I met while researching for maybe a new novel on Puerto Rico.  He lives in a modern, wooden house high on a hill outside Barranquitas.  He built the house because that is what Luis does – build incredible things with wood.  Not only houses, he may be the best craftsman currently constructing the Cuatro Puertorriqueño.  Known as a Cuatro for short, it is Puerto Rico’s most popular melodic instrument, and is played in both secular and religious music.  It sort of looks like a violin, or more accurately a violin-shaped guitar.  The Cuatro originally had four double-strings (hence cuatro for four) but at the end of the nineteenth century a fifth was added as its popularity rose on the island.

Cuatro by Luis Ángel Colón

Luis’ Cuatros are wonderful instruments, but don’t take my word for it.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City [Accession Number: 2003.216.1] has one of Luis’ creations.  An artist himself, Luis is proud when Cuatro-players around the island tell him what a great instrument he has made for them.

But like almost all artists, Luis dreams big and at first that meant creating the world’s largest-playable Cuatros, which he did several years ago.  The result was a 30 foot-long, Puerto Rican cuatro that weighs 1.4 tons.  Up to 15 people can fit inside Luis’ giant instrument, which you can actually tune, and play its chords with a giant guitar pick.  However, Luis is not finished.  In addition to building a second house, crafting exquisite  regular-size Cuatros, and also producing the Guiro Clásico Puertorriqueño, Guiro, a hollowed out gourd, about sixteen inches long, that has been dried and treated so that it can be used as an instrument.  Notches are carved on one side of the gourd, and the musician uses a stick or tines to create various raspy tones.  Johnny Pacheco was a famous Guiro player.  Janis Joplin was a famous singer who tried to play the Guiro, they key word being tried.

Guiro by Luis Ángel Colón

“Do It Again,” by Steely Dan, has prominent Guiro tones, as does “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” by Stevie Wonder.  If you are a Santana fan, you know all about this instrument; “I Ain’t Got Nobody That I Can Depend On” is a great one, as is “Guajira.”

Luis’ Dream — A Cuatro Museum and Restaurant

However, Luis has his sights set higher…much higher.  He has begun to organize architectural drawings of an entire building shaped as a Cuatro, possibly solar powered, here in Puerto Rico, that might be able to serve as a combination Cuatro museum and restaurant (with dishes named after parts of the Cuatro) in a unique fusion of music and food.  Luis Colón just might have an idea for you.

Create your own dream by checking out Luis’s dreams.  If you are a guitar player, broaden your horizons with your own Cuatro, maybe even one built by him.  Play along with Stevie, or Carlos and Jorge Santana with your own Guiro – you can get a good one for a very reasonable price.

Or just maybe you want to spend some quality time down in the Caribbean and want to open a one-of-a-kind restaurant.

Dare to Dream2021-09-04T16:54:41-06:00

West Point, Class of 1974



1967 – 1

1968 – 1

1969 – 12

1970 – 819

Graduated – 833

Time at West Point:

Upon arriving at West Point in the summer of 1970, the question every new cadet tacitly pondered was whether they would serve in Vietnam at some point during their time in service.  The country was deeply divided over the war, and nationwide anti-war demonstrations came to a tragic climax with the killing of four and wounding of nine other unarmed Kent State University students by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970.  Despite division over the war, 1377 new cadets entered the Academy out of over 6,000 applicants.  On his way to perform for the troops in Vietnam, Bob Hope and his entourage, stopped at West Point on December 15, 1970, for a special Christmas show.  And on May 29, 1971, President Nixon visited the academy with a message of assurance that no graduates from the Class of 1974 would be deployed to Vietnam, although this news was a little late for our future First Captain Jack Pattison, who had fought on Hamburger Hill in that conflict before attending the Prep School and subsequently West Point.

French & Dad at Graduation; it had been a LONG way from Summer School for Chemistry

While most of the class members were on summer leave, a few to summer school, army orientation training, or airborne school, a federal appeals court ruled on June 30, 1972, that mandatory chapel was unconstitutional, thus ending a years-long tradition at West Point.  On July 1, 1973, President Nixon fulfilled a re-election promise by ending the draft and ushering in the era of an all-volunteer army.  Distinguished scholars among the 833 graduates included Andrew Green and Thomas Downar recognized with the Hertz Foundation Award; Dwight Helton and Willis Marti awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship; Kerry Pierce awarded the Rhodes Scholarship; and Michael Reopel awarded a White House Fellowship.

Dave Petraeus and fiancée at graduation

Environment upon Graduation:

The Class of 1974 entered a peacetime Army divided between draftees and enlistees who served in Vietnam, and volunteers who had no combat experience.  Graduates were immediately challenged to address post-war issues such as low morale, racial tensions, and unit readiness as the Army transitioned from the Vietnam war to more defensive missions in Western Europe and South Korea.  The class also provided exemplary leadership regarding the integration and development of women into combat support units.  Missions and training broadened to include desert warfare in anticipation of conflicts in the Middle East.

Receiving Diploma from Superintendent, Lieutenant General William Knowlton. The “Supe” was probably more surprised than I was!

Career Highlights:

Members of the Class of 1974 served in assignments around the globe and played a key role in providing frontline combat leadership in the Gulf War (1990-1991), the Iraq War (2003-2011), and the Global War on Terror.  No members of the Class were killed in action or died while in captivity.  Twenty-five members of the Class became General Officers, including four 4-star generals, three 3-star, eleven 2-star, and seven 1-star.  Completing over forty years of active service, GEN Martin “Marty” Dempsey served as the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1, 2011, until September 25, 2015.  GEN Keith Alexander, serving in the United States Army for nearly forty years, served as director of the National Security Agency, chief of the Central Security Service, and commander of the United States Cyber Command.  GEN David “Dave” Petraeus served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency after serving 37 years in the United States Army.  Highlighting nearly thirty-seven years of service in the United States Army, GEN Walter “Skip” Sharp last served as the Commander, United Nations Command, Commander, ROK-US Combined Forces Command and Commander, U.S. Forces Korea.  After retiring as a Colonel, Matthew S. “Matt” Klimow (who was Keith Alexander’s roommate at West Point) went into the U. S. State Department; his career there culminated as the U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan.  Keith Alexander, Marty Dempsey, and Skip Sharp were each awarded the USMA Distinguished Graduate Award in 2016, 2017, and 2019, respectively.

West Point, Class of 19742021-06-28T19:22:58-06:00

The Po Po Report Now Podcast

Paul Ciolino

Sometimes I have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but once I found how easy it is to watch Podcasts, I was glad I did.  First, you can listen whenever you want; second, you can listen more than once; and third, for the ones I have found, all the commercials are cut out of regular broadcasts.

Take the Po Po Report broadcast that used to be every Saturday night from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on WLS Radio, 890 AM.  Led by Paul Ciolino, a former policeman and now a private investigator, the show delves into police, crime and punishment in Chicago, so you know that they are never at a loss for material.  They talk about street crime, transgressions by political bosses — giving kudos to special police officers and slamming crooks.  Po Po is just one of the nicknames for the police in Chicago, hence the name.

WLS was OK, but when the pandemic came, the radio station cut back and started making demands that Paul was not prepared to live with.  So Po Po became a big time podcast, that is far more real than following rules from a radio station.  In fact, the only rule is that the subject has to be interesting!  And it is every week.

Paul is my age; in fact we were in the same infantry company in Germany in the mid-1970s.  Being the only two guys from Illinois, I would swing by the company arms room, which he ran, and checked what the latest was in Chi-town.  A few years later, Paul got out of the Army and went into law enforcement, finally becoming a private investigator.

Let me sum him up: if I ever was arrested for a major crime I did not commit, Paul Ciolino is the private detective I would want on my side.  He has been involved in the OJ Simpson Case, the Oklahoma City Bombing Case, the Amanda Knox Case in Italy, and several capital murder cases in Illinois that proved that the wrong people were sitting on death row, which led to a policy change on the death penalty in Illinois.

Right now, Paul is working on the mysterious death of boxer Arturo Gotti, who died on July 11, 2009.  Brazil and Canada have weighed in over the years on the cause of death, with a lot of so-called experts settling on Suicide.  Once again, Paul is the voice of reason in an increasingly irrational world, and is working on a special network presentation that Arturo was murdered.  If you are out in Las Vegas anytime soon, take Murder and give the points.

Now Paul is the savvy old-timer; his partner on the show is Lupe Aguirre, a younger lawyer and police officer; my guess is early 40s, so he knows the current state of play in the police department (like how a police lieutenant can take a nap on duty), as well as the Millennial scene, not that too many listeners care about the latter.  You want Chicago accents, often politically incorrect language, and stuff on crime you won’t find anywhere else.  This is it.  You hear about murders every weekend in Chicago.  You’ll hear about them here too, but you will also hear that there is probably a serial killer loose in the city that may have murdered 51 women in Chicago.  That’s right, 51 women and a whole lot of the media hasn’t bothered to really cover it.

They talk about the abysmal arrest rate on murder cases and why that is so.  They hand out the “Jagoff of the Week” which is derogatory street slang meaning a person who is stupid or inept.

The guys also give you tips about using Uber drivers and other things to keep you safer in Chicago.  Supposedly the show even has a following in Statesville, the replacement prison in the state for the infamous Joliet Prison.  It is worth your time, so go to the podcast.  In a perfect world, you could have a couple of beers every week with Paul at a Chicago watering hole; this is the next best thing.

The Po Po Report Now Podcast2021-06-15T14:52:05-06:00
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