A TRIBUTE TO A FRIEND, A FELLOW AUTHOR, A GENERAL OF DISTINCTION , A REMARKABLY FINE HUMAN BEING AND AUTHOR OF A VERY IMPORTANT BOOK.
WHY WE LOST
LET ME SALUTE LTG DAN BOLGER U.S. ARMY (RETIRED)
I was born on May 23 944 (which makes me a ‘war baby). Though I am Irish, I was actually born in London and, a couple of months after my birth, was nearly killed when a doodlebug (a German V1 rocket) exploded nearby, blew in the windows, and dumped sharps of glass all over my cot.
Sometimes, when I’m in the mood, I claim that Hitler tried to kill me.
This was actually London’s second blitz. The first occurred after the Battle of Britain and consisted entirely of heavy bombing. It started in September 1940 and lasted until May 1941. It killed over 40,000. Most were civilians.
The second started on June 13 1944 and was far from a trivial affair. Sometimes over a hundred missiles a day were fired—9,521 in total—before the last of the launch sites within range of Britain were overrun by the Allies in October 1944.
A single V1 carried 1,870lbs of Amatol—nearly a ton—and made a very big bang.
Matters could have been a great deal worse except that the British, using fighters as well as anti-aircraft guns, became exceptionally good at shooting down the doodlebugs—and eventually destroyed over 80 percent before they could impact on a target.
I grew up much influenced by the war and its after-effects—and this led, in turn, to a deep appreciation of what the U.S. had done in WW II. That regard, accompanied by a deep interest in military matters in general, eventually led me to plan to write a series of books featuring the U.S. Army—and the mid Nineties I spent a considerable time researching various units of the XVIII Airborne Corps.
One was the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) which was where I first encountered Dan Bolger. As it happens, I knew about him already—but as an author. He had written a number of excellent non-fiction military books.
At the time he was a colonel, and he impressed me equally both as a soldier and as a human being. He went out of his way to see I was well briefed. Beyond that, he gave me a copy of his latest book which was still in manuscript form. That is an unusual gesture for an author to make and was deeply appreciated. Suffice to say, we became friends—and have remained loosely in touch over the years..
I was particularly pleased to see Dan make general. He had taken a risk by writing about military matters while still in the Army because the Army culture does not take criticism well—and almost any non-fiction book about a subject tends to be critical, if only by implication, in some way or other. Dan’s works were critical—albeit in a constructive way—but, somehow, he survived. Despite his exceptional ability, this was far from a foregone conclusion. The Army is rarely kind to its intellectual talent (a significant weakness in my opinion) . But Dan is not just a outstanding military thinker but he was also a consummate practical warrior—the kind of leader who gets the job done.
The club of generals—whether serving or retired—fosters a go along to get along culture which does not encourage criticism. Would Dan, who retired as a three star, go with the flow—or would his writer’s imperative and integrity win out?
Well, now we know—and I am much cheered. Dan has thrown political correctness to the winds and is telling the truth, as he sees it, without mincing words.
It will be the kind of truth we need to hear—and as far as the generals as whole are concerned, is long overdue.
Fortunately, Dan Bolger is not your average general. He will pay a price for his outspokenness—but, I suspect, will pay it willingly.
He is, as we say in Ireland, a decent man. I am proud to have such a friend—and I hope we pays attention to what he says. We are the most powerful nation on Earth, we keep on losing our wars—and the economic wellbeing of most Americans is in trouble.
We need to think about the implications of all this. These issues are connected.
VOR words 721.