Ramblings, football is life, and, oh yeah, about a place called Iwo Jima

A year ago I attended my fiftieth class reunion, Billings Central Catholic High School, Billings, Montana. If you are anywhere close, or even if thirty years away, my advice would be don’t bother. Two things were upsetting … the general level of intelligence is not indicative of fifty years of forward movement, and … I’ll be be delicate here, I won’t  be cruel or crude … so many of the women and quite a few of the men too … have gotten really fat. A couple of girls I dated were there, and all I could think was “Phew! Dodged a bullet!”

But that is all cosmetic. It goes deeper. People and attitudes do not change. I was an outsider in high school, and fifty years later, I was still an outsider. That’s a two-edged sword: I would not belong to a club that would have me as a member, but I wanted, like everyone, to be accepted and admired. In high school I did not like being an outsider and took no pride in my status. That mindset, however, inability to blend into the group, has molded me into the person I am, gave me self-employment and a happy life. Two-edged sword indeed.

Jerry Seinfeld quit high school in his senior year, saying “I knew I was never going to change anyone’s mind about me.” I wish I had been so wise. I should have at least skipped the reunion, and the thing is, even though they are talking about a 55th, it won’t happen so I won’t be able not to go.

The quarterback of our football team was a dick. It might be a manifestation of mental illness, maybe just abrasive narcissism, but he refused to shake hands, never smiled, and has been extremely rude to people on Facebook. He spent his career working for Microsoft, and that is important, to him.

Our football team was not very good, but our coach, Don Christensen, was a stern and stalwart disciplinarian. When we lined up to run an offensive play, the quarterback, Jerry V, would yell out “Set! Go!” There was, by design, no attempt to fool the defense. That is “Coach Chris” in a nutshell … we had to play above trickery, and win on discipline, hard work, and determination. Once, late in the football season, we begged him, please! Let us do a double “Go!.” He conceded, one time only. Jerry V yelled out “Set! Go!” and we all held still, and the entire defense jumped offside. The referees were chuckling as they marked off our first down. Coach Chris must have died a little inside, using trickery like that.

I asked Jerry V one time if it would have killed him to do a double “Go!” more often, just so that defense wasn’t down our throats on every play. He said that was all Chris, and anyway, he was all this and all that and got awards and all of that … Geez. What a dick. I “unfriended” him just to be away from the arrogance.

What brought this on? The Battle of Iwo Jima. WhaaaaTF, you ask?

It’s more than that, but one of our classmates knew Mark Lacy’s mother. If you remember, Mark Lacy was the Lt. Col. at the Mandolay Bay Hotel mass shooting, a fake event. He is said to have rescued wounded people by tearing down a fence and using it in place of stretchers. I had argued with this classmate about such events, but it fell inside bounds of politeness. When I suggested that LV was a hoax, his wheels fell off. “I know Mark Lacy’s Mom! He was a student here! He would not lie!”

It was a line in the sand, and of course, I cannot abide by such tactics, and so he said merely stay off the subject, as he believes. It’s OK, as I don’t much care for him anyway, just another classmate and a Facebook “friend.”

His father, it turns out, was in the Marine Corp in WWII and was part of the landing force on Iwo Jima. He was wounded. We both agreed that the famous flag-raising photo was staged. After all, Clint Eastwood made a movie, and that is good-as-gold truth. But I wondered about the battle, having never studied it, how much of it was real, how much of it was victor’s history. He blew his top. I should not dare question that battle. His father was there! He was wounded! Don’t talk to me again!

Fine. Choose your friends wisely, but choose your enemies as well, and I am just as happy having him as an enemy. But I did take time to read the Wikipedia account of Iwo Jima, and was intrigued and not at all disappointed. Something fishy is up there.

“After the heavy losses incurred in the battle, the strategic value of the island became controversial. It was useless to the U.S. Army as a staging base and useless to the U.S. Navy as a fleet base.[7] However, Navy Seabees rebuilt the landing strips, which were used as emergency landing strips for USAAF B-29s.[8]”

Do you mean to tell me that a battle that allegedly comprised some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of the Pacific War was fought without a clear strategic objective? Don’t say FUBAR. The military is not that stupid, would not spend lives in that manner unless the stakes were very high, and they were not. (OK, maybe they would.)

Iwo Jima was fought late in the war, at a time when the Japanese Navy and Air Force were in tatters. It was understood they would lose the battle, so that the General in charge on that side, Tadamichi Kuribayashi, adopted a strategy of attempting to make the battle as costly as possible for the Americans. Japanese troops and armaments were dug in deep, with tunnels and caves concealing everything. Routing them out involved dangerous patrols and sometimes even hand-to-hand combat. But the outcome was inevitable … of the 21,000 Japanese troops, 216 were taken prisoner, and the rest were either known dead or unaccounted for. Americans lost 6,800 men, with another 19,000 wounded, which would include my former friend’s father.

The battle ended on March 26 (=11), 1945, if that tells you anything. In fact, spook numbers abound in the article, which is 21 pages of text and nine more of footnotes. The battle actually went on for days and weeks after, as so many Japanese were dug in. So the date 3/26 is arbitrary, it appears.

I used to watch, years ago, a TV show called “House”, which, even as I enjoyed it, I knew to be absurd in its premise. One doctor had an entire department of beautiful people whose sole job it was to deal with unusual and difficult cases, often people without insurance. Good grief! I mention this because there was some piercing of the veil in that show, when Dr. Gregory House would talk directly to the audience about what was going on. Once he was walking with a colleague down a hallway with a camera on him, and said to us, the viewers, “Walking and talking this way moves the plot forward.”

The Pacific War was a series of battles after the Pearl Harbor attack, with the Japanese having the early advantage and the tide slowly turning. We all know about General MacArthur and the Philippines, “I shall return,” and along the way familiar names like Wake, Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima. Since I know my friend’s father was really a Marine who really landed and who was really wounded at Iwo Jima, and that he witnessed the deaths and injuries of colleagues, I am prepared to say that it was a real battle.

But that is all. All of the numbers, the massive human cost … maybe. Maybe in those days they did war for real. But one thing I told my former friend, much to his eternal acidic outlook about me, was that two things are true of all soldiers: They are indoctrinated, and compartmentalized. His father, a well-liked man in my home town, would have been trained to believe that Japanese soldiers were torturers and baby killers. It is essential to demonize the other side to produce an effective fighting force, so brainwashing is part of the work of Boot Camp. As the old saying goes … “give a dog a bad name, then you can beat him.”

His father, also, would not be aware of anything about Iwo Jima other than to stick with his brother soldiers and follow orders. He knew nothing of the larger picture, by design. This reminds me of another high school football event. In practice we ran a play, and I as a tight end deviated from my route hoping to be open for a pass. Another Coach, Tom Rowe, ran up to me and yelled in my face. I said “But Coach, I thought …” He snapped back “Mark, we don’t want thinking ends. We want ends who do what they are told!” I was compartmentalized.

My wife and I, when we lived in Bozeman, were fond of our neighbor’s dog, a black lab named Murphy, and would walk her when we got a chance. At a certain point on the walk was another dog inside an almost fenced-yard. Murphy and that dog would run up and down the fence snarling and growling viciously at one another, teeth bared. Then, when they got to the point where the fence ended, all hostilities ceased, they touched noses, and our walk continued.

I threw that in because this is a rambling post anyway, and because I know that after the war the U.S. and Japan became allies, and after the war Japan became, with our support, an advanced first world country that makes amazing automobiles and trucks, among many other things. It seems that Iwo Jima was the end of the fence for the U.S. and Japan. The island never had  any strategic importance. (The Japanese had radar on Iwo Jima, and used it to warn the homeland of incoming B29 raids, but that was also done from the nearby island of Rota, which was never invaded. So that aspect was unimpeded by the battle.)

It all makes me wonder, without further research, if the Pacific War was scripted. Many who come here suspect (though we cannot know) that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were evacuated prior to the bombs going off, and that the bombs were not nukes. I read that stuff too, and it gives me pause. But that war was so big that it would take a dedicated lifetime to unpack all of the events, real and fake, that were part of it. I am too old for that undertaking.

So with that, I offer two conclusions:

  • Iwo Jima was staged, but fighting was real. The father of my former friend was not a liar. I do not know how much of it was real, how much written after the fact, but he suffered and fought bravely. The raising of the flag on Mr. Suribachi is acknowledged to be a staged event. Secretary of Defense James Forrestal wanted the original flag as a souvenir, and was even on the beach below, and so obviously was not in any danger. Iwo Jima could have been part of a series of staged battles, real enough in terms of damage to hardware and men, but merely plot devices used to move the script forward, a way of walking and talking out the story.
  • And, finally, most importantly, if you are on a football team and your coach does not believe in trying to deceive the defense, quit. Immediately.

21 thoughts on “Ramblings, football is life, and, oh yeah, about a place called Iwo Jima

  1. The changing of sides after war always seemed strange to me very 1984-ish and should to anyone but its something Ive never heard people talk about much. One world government seems to have been a plan for an extremely long time. It has been kind of blatant yet still its not something the majority of people recognized long ago and few talk about it today. So called allies becoming enemies overnight should have long ago aroused the public’s interest. I suspect the soldiers just fight but simply never know the real reasons why they are fighting, but they cant all be dumb can they, I mean look how much information is available as all wars seem to precipitate from lies yet that hasnt stemmed the military’s capacity. Its something Ive thought about like how many soldiers read the same stuff we do yet you still never hear of them really being disgruntled you’d think by now there would have been groups of them that have. Perhaps at that point a steady paycheck is more important.


  2. Some B29 where landed in Russia, in 1944. We are supposed to believe, they where just copied, and became the TU4. Not convincing, considering the production technology needed. Hiroshima started the nuclear scare, the TU4 provided the means of delivery.
    For the Korean war, a Russian fighter jet was needed. Russia got a Rolls Royce radial engine from the UK, just sold, what a stupid mistake. Technology is always shared, as the stage needs. The TU160 is a big B1, just compare pictures.

    The movie Hacksaw Ridge maintained the picture of the Pacific carnage. I was surprised, it demonizes the Japanese even today.


    1. I listened to part of it, anyway, before thinking “got it” and moving on otehr stuff. I had a physical last week – I have a prescription for Temazepan to help me sleep, won’t go into it but insomnia is a lifelong issue with me. In order to continue with that, I have to submit to an annual physical.

      My PA (I don’t trust doctors) advised me that I should get three vaccines, for shingles, pneumonia, and flu. I politely declined. My blood work came back with an elevated PSA, and I was referred to a local urologist, and I politely declined. It’s all done now, and I have a six month scrip for Temazapine. Am I addicted to it? Maybe – I take only a half dose, but rarely fall asleep without it.


  3. I had a pretty good friend in high school who was a cut-up, a card, light-hearted.. Though we did play chess during one joke elective class so he was not a total wisenheimer. Anyway we went our separate ways, he majored in philosophy and revealed a heretofore undemonstrated analytical capacity. But from what I can tell at a distance, while he still has a sense of humor, he’s an earnest True Believer in “the system” and all his analysis is just of the “angels on the head of a pin” kind, arguing over semantics within the safe confines of official dogma. So weird.


  4. “fait accompli”: Often said of something irreversible and/or performed without going through standard procedure, completed before those affected by it are in a position to query or reverse it. (Accomplished Fact. Creating a “fact” and then creating proof?)

    The Japanese command knew there was no other outcome but defeat on Iwo Jima. To believe they sacrificed their men is to assume the Japanese will do such a thing as a matter of course. This would paint them as crazy and worth killing (to save more lives, see, like the Hiroshima and Nagasaki rationale- damn Japs are blind worker ants whose lives are literally owned by the Emperor! Where’s the bug spray?)
    I don’t believe it. My suspicion is that the Japanese surrendered and agreed to war game exercises with some live rounds thrown in for the truly crazy soldiers on both sides to have some authentic fun. The rest of the troops, as is the norm in battle, stayed in reserve while the pliant press and the cameras rolled where so ordered.

    My father rolled a jeep while in the Corps and got a purple heart for it. He was on leave in the Philippines. Probably drunk. So he was injured in the Korean War. He would expand or contract that story as need arose.

    Fun fact: Emperor Hirohito stashed his gold in the Vatican during the war.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It (you) makes sense from another standpoint: If the Japanese were holed up on an island of no strategic value. There was no need to go in and root them out, and at great cost. Siege would work as well, leave a few ships to patrol the waters to make sure supplies don’t get through. They would either starve or surrender.

      I had never considered the war games aspect, but am now. It could also have been staged from the get go, no troops there, no tunnels, just a few actors on either side. Why would the Japanese commit a large number of troops to an island that they too knew to be unimportant. Makes no sense.


      1. Population reduction? Put troops (best of breed) on both sides in boats, put them to sea and drown them to the bottom, line a percentage of them up and gun them down. Report back they died on the battlefield. Same with civilians (useless eaters), clear the town out and dispose by the same means, then bomb the infrastructure, bulldoze it all, remove the waste and rebuild.


  5. This could also have been some kind of ordnance dump to ensure further appropriations. X amount of tax dollars were pledged to the Pacific theater and so evidence of such necessity must be produced. A staged series of island battles with trumped up casualty lists on useless turf would make a great cover for spending one billion dollars after getting three billion from the tax payer. In all the confusion, a precise inventory would be impossible.


    1. Gotta take a look at that! I was amazed a couple of years back that there were hardly any photos available of D-Day, and the one I saw was just movement of equipment offshore to onshore. The whole premise, that the Germans did not know it was coming, that amazing secrecy was used to hide thousands of men and transport … is loopy.


      1. Yes, Operation Overlord, very few people talk about it on the Internet, but it was a very lucky break. There were many possibilities for a final failure.

        The German leaders and Hitler himself made many mistakes that day. And such an operation had to be carried out under the best possible conditions. There is a lot of evidence to indicate that Germany was aware of D-Day.

        If you do not have time, proceed directly to the abstract/conclusion of the article.


        We can bet once again that the victims’ numbers have been inflated.


        1. I’ll not be jumping ahead to the conclusion. We are going to be traveling in the month ahead, lots of planes and trains. This is right up my alley. I am going yo delay reading it until then. It is the kind of project I would undertake if I were younger and smarter … WWII is so very big, so many rabbit holes abound. I can’t wait to learn what this guy uncovered.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Cryptography (not to be confused with “the G-word”), has been an important weapon to military scriptwriters at least since the days of Na-pole-on “Bone-a-part”. For those who do not know what “cryptography” is, it is an alphanumeric code that when applied to a word that has one particular meaning, reveals a number that matches another word, with a completely different meaning and the true meaning of the message.

    Now Kevin Costner (or the scriptwriters) have revealed some genuinely excellent tidbits with his movies. In Dances with wolves, Lt. John J. Dunbar, meets a woman, who he later finds out is named “Stands with a Fist” and later yet he finds out her “Christian name” is “Christine” and I know that Mark hates this sort of shit-but the names/words “Christ” and “Stands” both have a numerological value of “77” and and the following 8 letters in that name “with a fis” also have numerological value of “77” and Washington D.C., the seat of Political/Military Power in the U.S. is on the 77th Meridian, and at the end of the movie, Lt. John J. Dunbar AKA “Sunkmana tu tanka ob waci” AKA “Dances with Wolves” is leaving the TRIBAL LODGES to travel with “Christine” AKA “Stands with a Fist” to Washington D.C. and the stage name of the actress who plays “Stands with a Fist” is Mary McDonell and Washington D.C. is carved out of “Mary-land” and in another script, Mary is the Mother of Jesus and another Mary, “Magdelene” Jesus did free from “seven demons” and in the movie where Kevin Costner eventually has sex wit Christine (Mary), his real life daughter Annie Costner, plays the part of Christine as a child in the flashback scenes. Now it might be worth noting that the name MARY appears in the word MilitARY but 2 bee sure, that is mere coincidence! Or is it?



  7. Mark my 35 year reunion is few weeks away. Should I go? Most people haven’t seen me since I last attended 10 year reunion. I’m not part of the club per se of the usual suspects of dudes who many have stayed close forging tight bonds that last to this day of which I had same close bonds leading the way with all of them until graduation all those years ago. I know there are some who will be glad to see me. Others I think will feign slight interest while silently comparing their lifes notes with mine then keep their backs turned rest of the night gathered up like a posse. My presence will create positive buzz but for how long is the question and at what price. Two or three of the major players in high school have never attended reunions and it’s not because they’re hiding. I’m sorta in the middle risking the wish I didn’t go and the wishing I had gone because dammit I think I look damn good and I want everyone to see me especially the chicks in all my narcissistic glory. I’m piece of work I know. Delusional too. As always it will be game time decision. In meantime can I buy a vowel?


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