military memorials

Kilroy Was Here!

He’s engraved in stone in the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC – back in a small alcove where very few people have seen it. For the WWII generation, this will bring back memories. For younger folks, it’s a bit of trivia that is an intrinsic part of American history and legend.

Anyone born between 1913 to about 1950, is very familiar with Kilroy. No one knew why he was so well known….but everybody seemed to get into it. It was the fad of its time!

          At the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC

So who was Kilroy?

In 1946 the American Transit Association, through its radio program, “Speak to America,” sponsored a nationwide contest to find the real Kilroy….now a larger-than-life legend of just-ended World War II….offering a prize of a real trolley car to the person who could prove himself to be the genuine article.

Almost 40 men stepped forward to make that claim, but only James Kilroy from Halifax, Massachusetts, had credible and verifiable evidence of his identity.

“Kilroy” was a 46-year old shipyard worker during World War II (1941-1945) who worked as a quality assurance checker at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts (a major shipbuilder for the United States Navy for a century until the 1980s).  

His job was to go around and check on the number of rivets completed. (Rivets held ships together before the advent of modern welding techniques.) Riveters were on piece work wages….so they got paid by the rivet. He would count a block of rivets and put a check mark in semi-waxed lumber chalk (similar to crayon), so the rivets wouldn’t be counted more than once.

                                     A warship hull with rivets

When Kilroy went off duty, the riveters would surreptitiously erase the mark. Later, an off-shift inspector would come through and count the rivets a second time, resulting in double pay for the riveters!

One day Kilroy’s boss called him into his office. The foreman was upset about unusually high wages being “earned” by riveters, and asked him to investigate. It was then he realized what had been going on. 

The tight spaces he had to crawl in to check the rivets didn’t lend themselves to lugging around a paint can and brush, so Kilroy decided to stick with the waxy chalk. He continued to put his check mark on each job he inspected, but added KILROY WAS HERE! in king-sized letters next to the check….and eventually added the sketch of the guy with the long nose peering over the fence….and that became part of the Kilroy message.

   Kilroy’s original shipyard inspection “trademark” during World War II

Once he did that, the riveters stopped trying to wipe away his marks.

Ordinarily the rivets and chalk marks would have been covered up with paint. With World War II on in full swing, however, ships were leaving the Quincy Yard so fast that there wasn’t time to paint them. As a result, Kilroy’s inspection "trademark” was seen by thousands of servicemen who boarded the troopships the yard produced.

His message apparently rang a bell with the servicemen, because they picked it up and spread it all over the European and the Pacific war zones.

Before war’s end, “Kilroy” had been here, there, and everywhere on the long hauls to Berlin and Tokyo. 

To the troops outbound in those ships, however, he was a complete mystery; all they knew for sure was that someone named Kilroy had “been there first.” As a joke, U.S. servicemen began placing the graffiti wherever they landed, claiming it was already there when they arrived.

As World War II wore on, the legend grew. Underwater demolition teams routinely sneaked ashore on Japanese-held islands in the Pacific to map the terrain for coming invasions by U.S. troops (and thus, presumably, were the first GI’s there). On one occasion, however, they reported seeing enemy troops painting over the Kilroy logo!

Kilroy became the U.S. super-GI who had always “already been” wherever GIs went. It became a challenge to place the logo in the most unlikely places imaginable. (It is said to now be atop Mt. Everest, the Statue of Liberty, the underside of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and even scrawled in the dust on the moon by the American astronauts who walked there between 1969 and 1972.

In 1945, as World War II was ending, an outhouse was built for the exclusive use of Allied leaders Harry Truman, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill at the Potsdam Conference. It’s first occupant was Stalin, who emerged and asked his aide (in Russian), “Who is Kilroy?”

To help prove his authenticity in 1946, James Kilroy brought along officials from the shipyard and some of the riveters. He won the trolley car….which he attached to the Kilroy home and used to provide living quarters for six of the family’s nine children….thereby solving what had become an acute housing crisis for the Kilroys.

                     The new addition to the Kilroy family home.

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And the tradition continues into the 21st century…

In 2011 outside the now-late-Osama Bin Laden’s hideaway house in Abbottabad, Pakistan….shortly after the al-Qaida-terrorist was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs

>>Note: The Kilroy graffiti on the southwest wall of the Bin Laden compound pictured above was real (not digitally altered with Microsoft Paint, as postulated by some). The entire compound was leveled in 2012 for redevelopment by a Pakistani company as an amusement park….and to avoid it becoming a shrine to Bin Laden’s nefarious memory.

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A personal note….

My Dad’s trademark signature on cards, letters and notes to my sisters and I for the first 50 or so years of our lives (until we lost him to cancer) was to add the image of “Kilroy" at the end. We kids never ceased to get a thrill out of this….even as we evolved into adulthood. 

To this day, the “Kilroy” image brings back a vivid image of my awesome Dad into my head….and my heart!

Dad: This one’s for you!

Memorial Day weekend is a time when a lot of Americans remember those who have served and lost their lives during war — and not all of those individuals were U.S. citizens.

When the Iraq war started, nearly 40,000 members of the military were not U.S. citizens. Army Pfc. Diego Rincon was one of them.

In 1989, his family immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia. In 2003, he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq. He died for his country even though he wasn’t a citizen.

His parents, George Rincon and Yolanda Reyes still remember their son and how quickly he adapted to his home in the U.S.

“We came here when he was 5-years-old,” Reyes says. “Diego started speaking English faster than we did. He was often letting me know, ‘When I finish high school, I’m going to join the Army.’ ”

Diego did go on to join the Army and he was on his way to becoming a citizen, along with his parents.

“Before he went to Iraq, he got the green card,” George says. “But he said to me, 'Dad, don’t do the citizenship until I return. We’ll do it together.’ ”

Remembering A Soldier Who Died For His Country Before Becoming A Citizen

Photo: Von Diaz/StoryCorps

Today marks the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. With over 23,000 combined casualties suffered by both the Union and Confederate armies, it remains the bloodiest day in American history. It’s hard to imagine the horror that ravaged this Maryland community when you walk the now peaceful fields of Antietam National Battlefield. Photo by National Park Service.


“Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others.”  -Ronald Reagan  

Let us not forget what this day is really about.    

It’s not about a three day weekend for Memorial Day. It’s about remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

My service in the Air Force doesn’t hold a candle to what men and women went through in all of America’s wars that saw combat. Let’s take a moment and remember their bravery and the ones that didn’t come home.

Remember, today, that people put themselves in harms way so that we do not have to. Remember that people fall, only to be carried by others they hardly know, so we can stay here, safely in our beds. Remember, that people stood up against unimaginable evil, time and again, so its spread could be halted, its flame extinguished. Remember, today, those who do not see their families for months, years, and then never again, so we can be with ours. Here’s to them, to all they sacrificed and missed, to all they risked, for us. Happy Memorial Day. #memorialday

anonymous asked:

Hello! I'm sorry, you've probably totally already answered a question like this but I can't find it. Do you know of ways a military would try to train their soldiers to be prepared for capture and torture? In modern times? Would they torture them and teach them to resist or something?

I can tell you what they do yes, but I’m afraid the evidence suggests it really does not work.

In fact the evidence we have suggests that this sort of training may instead act as a way of transmitting and encouraging torture techniques. That doesn’t mean that everyone who’s been through one of these programs turns into a torturer, but it does tend to have the unfortunate side effect of teaching them how to torture.

In the US these programs are set up as a sort of fake capture scenario. Soldiers have a day on ‘patrol’ and are then ‘captured’. They’re hooded, separated from each other, sleep deprived, starved, dehydrated and beaten over a period of about 48 hours. They’re also shouted at a lot.

Morgan did a series of rather wonderful studies on soldiers who went through this particularly pointless ‘training’. He split his soldiers into two groups, those that went through a ‘high stress’ confrontational ‘interrogation’ involving slaps and verbal abuse, and a control group who instead got a calmer chat and a cup of tea.

Morgan then asked the soldiers to identify their ‘interrogator’ the next day.

The ‘high stress’ group, for the most part, couldn’t do it. In fact more than half of them identified the wrong person and were absolutely positive they were correct in their identification. (The figures were 51-68% wrongly identified, depending on the method of identification used, compared to 12-38% wrongly identified in the control group).

This is a brilliant illustration of just how big the effects of torture on memory actually are. The subjects were volunteers, they knew what to expect, they were as far as possible prepared. And the results speak for themselves.

These studies were conducted in 2004.

Central to this question is the definition of ‘resistance’.

There is no way to resist the damage torture inflicts on the human brain. Problems with memory, psychological problems and chronic pain are unavoidable. They are normal.

But resistance to torturers is also normal.

If resistance is defined as the refusal to give in a torturer’s demands rather than as immunity to natural psychological reactions to trauma- Then resistance is absolutely the norm.

Figures from historical France show that on average only 10% of torture victims can be forced to confess. 90% of people when tortured refuse to comply with their torturers long enough to write their name.

We don’t have figures and statistics for so-called ‘enhanced interrogations’ but everything we know about torture and its effects on the human body and brain suggests that torture fundamentally can not make people give up accurate information. The data we have actually suggests that it makes people more likely to lie, become an entrenched enemy of their torturer’s ‘side and resist by any means available.

There has never been a proven case of a victim giving up accurate, timely information under torture.

And what this all means is that programs that ‘train’ people to resist torture are utterly pointless. They are likely to give their trainees psychological problems and don’t do anything to enhance a human being’s natural and innate ability to withstand brutality.

We don’t need training. We are already much much tougher than pop culture would have you believe.