Tennis and Old Age 7-28-2006

Tennis and Old Age

July 28, 2006


Richard J. Garfunkel



It was decently hot here yesterday.  We played tennis Saturday, and I was asked to fill-in in a 50+ year-old tennis match representing Armonk Tennis on Sunday. It went off at 12:45 pm, so it was quite warm. It probably was over 100 on the court. I had never played with my partner before, but I heard he was decently good and demanding. Ironically the starter, one Esta Sands, who is a client of mine and I know her personally for years, recommended me to play. It seems that someone was unavailable, and she knows I play a strong game, but I rarely play in tournaments or team, inter-club events. I just never think about doing it and would rather play earlier in the morning and relax in the afternoon by the pool. Mike Ansbro (Beaver), of MV fame, wanted to play in that slot, but Esta told me that my partner, Bob Bernstein did not want him. She said that if Mike asked me, I should tell him that I was asked early in the morning to fill-in. Meanwhile he never asked.


But, be that as it may, we faced two decent players from the NYAC and the match proceeded. We got behind early 1-2, and eventually even it up at 3-3, were down 4-5 and tied it, and than won 7-5. I was quite happy. The rules in these matches call for a 10-point tie-breaker if both sets are split. Well my partner was not happy with my style of play, but I was. I don't like to force the play at the net because, a lot of players at this level lob constantly, so I play back on return of serve to my partner and do not rush to the net after my serve or after my return of serve. My forehand and serve are usually strong enough to set my partner up at the net, if he is quick enough. Well he was steady but his shots were soft, his serve was accurate but, with medium pace and frankly he won few points. But he rallied well. The problem was that he was volleying but not getting the put away shot.


The second set opened up badly. I lost my serve because of little support from him and before I turned around it was 1-4 and then 2-5. My partner was wilting a bit, but I am usually much stronger after I catch my breath from the first set. I'm always a bit winded over the first 8 or 10 games. He said to me that maybe we should take it easy, sort of concede the 2nd set, and concentrate on the 10-point tiebreaker. He obviously didn't know my style. I said that I usually take each game as they come. We rally to 5-5, lose the next game and go to 5-6. On my serve I get in two aces, and even up the games to 6-6. We go into the tiebreaker. We win the first point, I serve and win the next two, and we go up 3-0, then 4-0 and 4-2 as my partner loses two points, but we rally and I serve again and eventually we win the set 7-2 in the tie-breaker. It was an aggressive two-hour effort in the midday sun, which only mad dogs and Englishmen, as the late Noel Coward, would have warbled, “go out in!”


Linda and a number of others were there to cheer us on. She asked me in the middle of the set whether I wanted a soda and I said “bring it on!” My partner said (Princeton, Class of 1970) “drinking caffeinated soda served to dehydrate one as opposed to drinking water!” I said, “I could care less!” But that drink helped immensely. Problem was that the water in the jugs had gotten as warm as camel p-ss. Meanwhile I made only a few mistakes, no unforced errors, just some bad shot selection for one reason or another. I was never beaten on my return of serve, but kept the ball in play with very strong low forehands, some flat and hard and some with a lot of topspin. Ironically our club had already one the match. If we had lost the second set, there would have probably not been any tiebreaker. The guys form the NYAC knew some of my old wrestling colleagues from the distant past and we parted as gentleman. The next stop was the pool. Boy did I need that!




Strategy of Confronting Hezbollah 7-27-06

The Strategy of Confronting Hezbollah!


Richard J. Garfunkel

July 27, 2006



Yes, he makes some serious points. With these crazies anything can almost be believed. For my money, I would doubt that Iran would trust Hezbollah with that type of high-level ordinance. But stranger things have happened. Unlike Al Qeada, which could easily pose as “stateless,” one would not have to guess whose sponsors are behind Hezbollah. An aggressive layered defense along with reinforced bunkers and tunnels usually causes problems for an offense,  but in the end they would lose. They have no real retreat. They will be under the pressure of incredible bombardment and the noise and fear that accompanies such barrages. The Japanese fortified Tarawa with coconut logs and concrete enforce steel mesh and worked on those emplacements for many, many years. They said that it would take 100,000 men 20 years to take their island. The Marines of the 6th Division men destroyed their regiment-sized defense in 3 days (76 hours). The Marines had very high casualties, 1056 KIA's and 2300 wounded, due to three distinctive problems; 1) getting onto the beach in spite of withering fire that destroyed half of their landing craft 2) getting inland and dealing with fanatical and suicidal resistance 3) dealing with tunneled defenses and reinforced bunkers. But the 4800 or so Japanese defenders were reduced to just 17 survivors. Of course, in later analysis, and evaluation, and in response and reflection to high criticism regarding losses, certain conclusions were rendered; the air attacks were mostly ineffective due to smoke and dust obscuring the ground to the naval fliers, and the naval bombardment was too little and what they had expended proved ineffective. Because of the flat terrain and the low trajectory of the ordinance many shells bounced and skimmed off the coral island and wound up in the sea. Tarawa needed weeks of softening up by naval bombardment, not days! 


What have we learned from all of this? Fixed positions, that are isolated, with no ability to be relieved will fall. The taking of them can often be expensive, but sometimes not. During WWII the Germans were quite adept at taking fixed positions. The Israelis have a few choices; attempt to overwhelm Hezbollah with massive ground forces, reduce their positions by continued bombardment from air assets, artillery, and laser guided ordinance or use small unit actions that penetrate strong positions at night and destroy them bunker by bunker. 


With regards to the first option, the use of a massive attack has some advantages and drawbacks. The advantage would be a quicker victory and the capturing of POWs, information and equipment along with the stopping of the launching of short-range missiles. The downside is casualties for a nation with limited manpower. The second option is a war of attrition with the expending of valuable ordinance along with downside of the continued vulnerability regarding the civilian population being hit by missiles. The third option, which they are using now, is the use of small units backed up by Apache gun ship helicopters and limited heavy armor. The downside is that this tactic will take longer but it will insure victory but at a slower pace. Also time may not be on their side.


Meanwhile regarding, and reading through Thomas Lipscomb's thoughtful analysis, one must carefully weigh what he has said. In the first place he could be very correct about the Iranian-Hezbollah strategy of drawing Israel in to a more prolonged effort. But in a general retreat deeper into Lebanon they (Hezbollah) would face a great vulnerability once out in the open. Their defenses would not be layered they would be much more exposed to Israel's air arm and Israeli armor. With complete air support this armor would obliterate their weakened positions. An army on the retreat cannot sustain a prolonged defense. Also the bulk of Hezbollah's trained men and equipment would have been destroyed in southern Lebanon. This would break the morale of most fanatical of Israel's foes. It would not be easy to reconstruct what they have put together. Also, once Hezbollah is gone, the environment for a few regiments of NATO troops as a peacekeeping buffer would be more comfortable.


With regards to the idea that Hezbollah would launch higher impact, more sophisticated long-range guided missiles into Israel is not completely far-fetched. But, for sure, that would be an escalation that could be disastrous for Iran and Syria. The specter of Israel being hit by V-2 sized guided missiles is horrorific, but the retaliation could be catastrophic. As insane as one may think that the Teheran mullahs are, one would be hard-pressed to believe that they would declare war through their surrogates and face a nuclear response. If they attempted this action and Israel was gravely hurt, the consequences to the region could be hard to contemplate. 


My sense is that Hezbollah does not have the use of long-range high impact ordnance. Their investment is in southern Lebanon and they have been banking on time. If time is unlimited, then their time will run out. If they are destroyed as a fighting unit, their political arm may wither. The key to this game, is in the wake of a Hezbollah military defeat is to get the US and NATO into Lebanon, support their centrists and anti-Syrian supporters and help the government root out Hezbollah which will be perceived as the root of their disaster. It was Hezbollah that brought on their destruction. If they rid themselves once and for all of Hezbollah, re-build and re-enforce their small army and welcome western money and support, Syria and Iran will be isolated and marginalized.



A Middle East chess match

By Thomas Lipscomb
Published July 27, 2006




The Israeli military has already been surprised by the carefully prepared defenses of Hezbollah, just across the Lebanese border. Their leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and his Iranian sponsors have clearly not been wasting their time over the past six years. Israel's military has been facing first-rate defenses that are breaking up the effectiveness of invading Israeli armor with both fixed defenses like mines and IEDs and well-employed flexible defenses like anti-tank missiles. Israeli armor is already responding with a quick fix, like installing belly armor to save their highly trained crews if they can't keep their tanks from being knocked out.

    But a key element in understanding the underlying Hezbollah strategy may be paying attention to the kind of missiles being used up to this point in the engagement. They are almost all short-range area weapons like obsolete Katuysha rockets. Doesn't that seem very strange indeed, as Israeli forces freely pound Hezbollah targets in the Bekaa Valley and southern Beirut with the most sophisticated laser-guided munitions?

    For now, as Israel attacks north, it has to pay a high price for eliminating the least effective missiles in the Hezbollah arsenal. Even assuming Israel captures all of them, there are still an estimated 2,000 missiles out of reach that are far more dangerous.

    Has Hezbollah prepared a very clever defense in depth? Will a battered Israeli military move northward, only to find it thought it left things safe behind them — paying a higher and higher price as more modern missiles start reaching out at far longer ranges than the antique Katuyshas? Their range is no longer 25 miles but 155 miles, with missiles that can reach key points in Tel Aviv and elsewhere. And won't this create intolerable political pressures on the government of Israel?

    The United States has already suffered from the propaganda and strategic effect of directed weapons on September 11. What if the first Hezbollah long-range missile attack lands on the Knesset in session?

    Mr. Nasrallah has already stated he has a “surprise” waiting for the Israelis. And he isn't the sort of leader who postures impotently for photo-ops, like Yasser Arafat, while totally lacking the military capability for anything besides harassment. His calm announcement that he had informed the Lebanese government in advance that he intended to kidnap Israeli soldiers had to throw a shock into those still wishing to dismiss him as some out-of-control warlord whose host state would welcome his removal.
    It is time to admit that, if this is Mr. Nasrallah's strategy, it is far too late to interdict his supply lines. He has already installed and hidden all the weapons he needs to carry out this attack. The Israeli military is using its considerable skills to locate them in Lebanon. But if only 5 percent — or even 50 sophisticated weapons — survive to land on effective targets in Israel, what real “negotiated peace” is possible?

    Under these circumstances, the Middle East may well be facing another of those interim truces being pressed by the usual clueless international entities that have solved nothing and only ramp up the next level of confrontation. Even if a NATO force moves in to occupy the area south of the Litani River the Lebanese Army couldn't, or wouldn't, occupy according to U.N. Resolution 1559 and Israeli forces declare victory and go home, in reality Hezbollah and Iran become more empowered and Israel becomes the most vulnerable it has ever been.

    That kind of “solution” may eliminate any useful Katuysha sites, but it also leaves Mr. Nasrallah's Hezbollah firmly emplaced with its most effective standoff weapon arsenal and the trained forces to employ them no matter what kind of idiotic “demilitarization” clause they agree to and ignore in the negotiated truce. And Lebanon will have made a giant step in undoing its “Cedar Revolution.”

    Freed from direct Syrian control, Lebanon will have only moved from the host of a stateless terror group to another failed state politically now under Hezbollah's direct control. And Iran becomes the real beneficiary of this proxy war against Israel, gaining a stunning victory in its real battle for the leadership of the Middle Eastern Muslim world — without a direct confrontation with either Israel or the United States — that will significantly alter the balance of power in the Persian Gulf.

    There has been a controversy for centuries over who invented chess. The leading contenders remain India and Persia, which today is called Iran. As this engagement unfolds, the odds have to be increasing that it was Persia.

    But chess depends upon harnessing a limited number of inexorable probabilities, which is why the IBM computer Deep Blue finally was able to beat a chess master. Iran has to be concerned that human beings play other games as well. Israel knows who it is really confronting. Faced with the “solution” above, which for the first time threatens its very existence in a conventional engagement, Israel may well change the name of the game.
    Thomas Lipscomb is an investigative reporter and a fellow of the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future.


Thomas H. Lipscomb

Annenberg Center for

   the Digital Future (USC)

1360 York Avenue, Suite 3D

New York NY 10021





The Crisis in Northern Israel and the Impact of Hezbollah 7-26-06

The Crisis in Northern Israel and the Impact of Hezbollah!


Richard J. Garfunkel

July 26, 2006


Last night in White Plains, Linda, our Israeli cousin Ami Raz, a visiting professor from Tel Aviv, and I attended a “Solidarity with Israel” rally hastily arranged by the Westchester Jewish Conference. On this warm evening with short notice 1200 people squeezed into Temple Israel. In addition to our local politicians, who stated what everyone wanted and expected to hear, Mr. David Harris, of the American Jewish Committee, addressed us in the most serious tone.


I, like many of you, have attended these types of gatherings for decades. As it has been stated before, from more eloquent sources, this is not a new war, but another chapter of a continuous fight for survival. This long war started over the existence and presence of Jews in the then British Mandate, and has continued throughout the history of the sovereign State of Israel.


Hezbollah, as we all know, is another manifestation and embodiment of the historical effort to confront Israel with aggression. Whether one goes back to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and his incitement of murderous Arab riots against Jewish settlements in the 1920’s and 30’s, or the rejection of the Partition in 1947, or the War for Independence, the existence and survival of a Jewish Homeland has always been an immense blood stained struggle. From its earliest days of statehood, Israel and its people have fought murderous intrusions of Fedeyeen terrorists, blockages of its ports, shelling of its citizens and threats against its very existence by dictators and madmen like Nasser and Assad.


Today the Arab states do not have large armies, they are not client states of the Soviets and tools of the cold war, but many of them are just as dangerous and even more committed than ever to destroy Israel. So today, we are witnessing and experiencing this new threat from these so-called “stateless” terrorists. These brigands represented by Hezbollah and Hamas, pose and pass as legitimate democratically elected tribunes of their people. They use monies raised in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia to establish their concept of their type of relief, “soup kitchens,” and schools of religious hatred. They have become the ultimate non-governmental organization that works in parallel to the state. In Lebanon the state has looked the other way for years. That is why southern Lebanon has become an armed camp of fortresses buttressed by tunneled enclaves of fighters, along with their lethal stockpile of 13,000+ rockets and unguided missiles of wanton terror.


With this in mind, and the continuance of this border war, Northern Israel that has absorbed thousands of missiles raining down indiscriminately on civilian targets. David Harris, and the American Jewish Committee, which has promulgated safeguards for Jews and Jewish life, along with the understanding and the support for democratic and pluralistic societies that respect the dignity of all people since 1906, said it best when he said that, “we need again to stand up for Israel and lend our support now.”


Besides money, that must be given, all of us should write and petition our Representatives in the House and the Senate regarding our support for Israel. We must make it known to our public officials and our Congressional leaders that the time is now! We must write, call, and email the media regarding their one-sided and unfair coverage of this conflict. The people of Lebanon have brought into their homes and country a dangerous and virulent force that has led their society into another era of death and destruction. They experienced this force before when they endured a 15-year civil war supported and abetted by Syria. When are they going to learn?


Please send money to the UJA and forward their attached letter, and or mine to ten others.


Memories of Old New York and the Departure of the Dodgers 7-24-06


Memories of Old New York and the Departure of the Dodgers


Richard J. Garfunkel

July 24, 2006



I was never a Dodger fan, and never was I once in Ebbets Field, but for some strange reason my sister Kaaren was. The New York teams were well represented in our family. My father was an old-time Giant fan. Since he had grown up in Manhattan, being a Giant fan came naturally to him and many others of his generation. By the time he was 13 years old, in 1917, the Giants had been the most successful franchise in New York and had been led by their famous manager John McGraw for almost 16 years. They had stars like Christy Mathewson, Joe “Iron Man” McGinnity, Art Devlin, Larry Doyle, Rube Marquard, Chief Meyers, and Jeff Tesreau, They were also the most successful New York franchise with six pennants and five seconds in those 16 years. The Yankees had never won a pennant until 1921 and had only finished second three times in that same period. The Dodgers also had their own problems. They were a second division club for most of those years with only one 2nd place finish before finally a pennant in 1916. Kaaren eventually became disillusioned with the Dodgers when they traded Jackie Robinson to the Giants at the end of the 1956 season.


Of course being raised in Mount Vernon, which was not far from the Bronx, and being influenced by my mother, I became a Yankee fan. As a youngster growing up, my neighborhood was made up of fans from all three teams. That period from 1947 through 1957 before the departure of the Dodgers and Giants for the West Coast was the Golden Age of New York baseball. Other than 1948, a New York team was in the World Series every year. There were “Subway Series” in 1947, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, and 1956. My father, who liked the Giants took me often to the Polo Grounds, an antiquated and rusting hulk of a stadium which originally was built in Coogan’s Hollow, the last vestige of a farm granted by the King of England, in the 17th Century, to John Lion Gardiner. The property became the Coogan estate when a Gardiner descendent married James J. Coogan, who was elected the first Borough President of Manhattan in 1890. Twenty years after the original stadium was built in 1911 a fire swept through the 16,000-seat stadium and destroyed it. Eventually a concrete oval stadium was built and by the time it was enclosed in 1923 it held 55,000 fans. Ironically while the reconstruction was being done, the Giants played in Hilltop Park, the home of the Highlanders. After the opening of the new massive Polo Grounds, Hilltop Park, which was obviously located on a hill and occupied by the Highlanders Baseball Team. The Highlanders owed their name to the location of their ballpark and the fact that their owner Joseph W. Gordon’ name reminded some folks of the famed British Army unit (Gordon’s Highlanders) In 1913 the current owners (Farrell and Devery) of the Highlanders, who were quite often were referred to in the press as the Yankees, were unhappy with their antiquated park, and therefore accepted an invitation to play in the Polo Grounds. They stayed there until 1922, when John McGraw asked the then present owners Jacob Ruppert and Til Huston to take their team and leave. It is a mystery why he did that. The Yankees were big draws and outdrew the Giants in 1920, 21, and 22 and most would have thought that the added revenue would have been hard to resist. Maybe the Giants felt that they were being overshadowed by the presence of their new star Babe Ruth. John McGraw, an exponent of “inside” baseball or “little ball” as they term it today, hated Babe Ruth and his home runs. Of course the rest is history and McGraw expected them to move to Queens or someplace else and “whither on the vine.” They moved directly across the Harlem River and built “The House that Ruth Built.” The Yanks still remain there on property purchased by William Waldorf Astor and the Giants, who eventually went broke, left in 1957 and currently play in San Francisco. Many years later, in 1974-5, when the Yankee Stadium was being re-constructed they moved over to Queens and became guests of the City of New York, in Shea Stadium, for two unhappy seasons.


Years ago, I had become a bit more curious about the Dodgers because of my neighbors, the O’Hara family. Mr. William J. O’Hara, (1915-2002), was the father of a friend of mine and he was a local politician. He was a short-time member of the old Westchester Board of Legislators, and for the rest of his life he was referred to as the Commissioner. When his son, Billy, showed me, in the early 1950’s, one of Roy Campanella’s old gloves I learned that Mr. William O’Hara was connected to the Dodgers. I had never thought much about it when I was a youngster. I just was tremendously impressed with that famous big leaguer’s glove. I have no idea whether the O’Hara’s went to Ebbets Field and I was never asked to go with them. In fact, I can never remember going to a ballgame with anyone but my father or grandfather in those days. Mr. O’Hara was well connected and he also had a life-long relationship with the NY Football Giant’s Mara family as he had gone to Fordham College with Wellington Mara and Vince Lombardi. Even though I remained close to their family up until Mr. O’Hara’s death in 2002, I rarely, if ever, talked about his connections with the Giants and the Dodgers. One day, late in his life, and before he became sick in the mid 1990’s, we did talk about the Dodgers and how Walter O’Malley came to control that franchise. He told me that he had worked for O’Malley after law school and that O’Malley had gotten control of the Dodgers with practically no money! With those memories and thoughts in my mind, I started to reflect on the Dodgers and the stories he related.


In 1908 Charles Ebbets, who owned the Brooklyn Dodgers, wanted to build a new stadium. Ebbets, born in 1859, worked as a young man for six years at various jobs for the Dodgers before they entered the National League in 1890. In that year they had begun to be known as the Bridegrooms because six members of the team had been married in the off-season. When Ebbets rose to become secretary of the Brooklyn franchise he was given stock from one of the partners, a Mr. Harry Von der Horst. Von der Horst felt that if Ebbets owned part of the team he would be more loyal to its future. Eventually he had gained control of the club in 1898 after the death of the owner Charlie Byrne. As he was able to accumulate more money, because of the success of his club under the new manager Ned Hanlon, he bought more of the minority stock in the club. The Dodgers, who were known variously as the Trolley Dodgers, and the Bridegrooms, were then nicknamed the Superbas after a very popular local vaudeville troupe named Hanlon’s Superbas. That name caught on quickly and even in the 1950’s some old-timers still referred to the team as the Superbas.  By age 45, in 1904, Ebbets controlled most of the stock and bought out the last of the outstanding shares owned by his early mentor Harry Von der Horst.


The Dodgers played in the antiquated Washington Park, located between 3rd and 5th Streets and Ebbets started to dream of a new home for the team that would attract more upscale fans. Unfortunately, reflective to the vagaries of baseball economics, he had money problems. Having to raise the necessary funds to complete his venture, he sold 50% of his ownership in the club for $100,000 to two builders who were brothers, Ed and Steve McKeever. The effort to create this new stadium, which would be eventually named Ebbets Field, would take four years and was finally opened in 1913. Unlike the old wooden stands of Eastern Park, where they variously played and Washington Park, they were now in a modern two-tiered steel and concrete edifice that attracted over 25,000 to their inaugural game. Reluctantly the McKeever Brothers allowed it to be named after Ebbets. The new Ebbets Field, located on a 4.5-acre lot bordered by Bedford Avenue, Sullivan Street, Franklin Avenue, and Montgomery Street, was formerly an area that had been occupied by squatters, shanties and an illegal garbage dump. At one time it was known as the “pig sty.” The park officially opened on April 9, 1913, but the “real” first game was an exhibition against the American League NY Highlanders (forerunners of the Yankees.) Ebbets Field would be in business for another 43 years when the Dodgers ended their last home season in Brooklyn while facing the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 24, 1957. Before 6,702 curiosity seeking fans, the now moribund Brooklyn franchise ended their career in Brooklyn with a 2-0 victory, before heading off to Los Angeles for the 1958 season. The official demise of the ballpark would come with the demolition ball in February 23, 1960. On that day 200 persons, including Lucy Monroe, who sang the National Anthem along with members of the McKeever-Mulvey family, watched the end come. A few weeks’ later gold-plated bricks were sold for $1 and flowerpots were sold with infield soil for 25 cents. The cornerstone was sold to Warren Giles, the National League President who donated it to the Hall of Fame.


The Dodger partnership was never perfect and even the naming of a manager was a problem. Eventually an old crony of John McGraw and a veteran of the defunct Baltimore Orioles team, Wilbert Robinson was named. Uncle Robby, as he was known, would be a fixture in Brooklyn for many years after. In fact, during his long tenure with the Dodgers, the team was also nicknamed the “Robins” for a time. Robinson, born in 1864, started with the old Baltimore Orioles, of the National League and was a pretty decent ballplayer. He once held the single game record for seven hits (1892) and eleven runs batted in, coincidently in the same game. When the Orioles dropped out of the National League in 1902 (that franchise would eventually become the Highlanders and then the Yankees, in the new American League in 1903, under the ownership of Frank Farrell and Big Bill Devery, who bought it for $18,000) Robby retired and started a new career running a meat market. In 1911 his old Oriole buddy John “Mugsy” McGraw, who had become the highly successful manager of the NY Giants, asked him to join the Giants as a coach. They got along until 1913, when after a game they had a falling out over a “missed” sign, and the argument spread to that evening. It became so unpleasant that they soon parted company. Charlie Ebbets, whose Dodgers and fans hated the Giants, saw an opportunity to hire the popular and much loved Uncle Robby as the Dodger’s new manager. Wilbert Robinson was always well liked, and at one time, Colonel Tillinghast ’Til” L’Hommedieu Huston, the then co-owner and partner of Colonel Jacob Ruppert of the Yankees, wanted Robby to manage the Yankees. He was never able to convince Ruppert to hire Robby and eventually Ruppert, the Knickerbocker Beer Baron bought him out. (Colonel Huston was an engineer and a real army colonel. Jacob Ruppert was an honorary colonel in the New York State National Guard.)


In 1925, Ebbets, while visiting Clearwater, Florida, took sick and died at the age of 66. A few days later, after enduring a long rain at Ebbets’ burial at the Greenwood Cemetery, his partner Ed McKeever got a cold. It seems that the late Charles Ebbets had been buried in an oversized coffin, but the gravediggers had not been informed and had to spend an hour widening the grave. The over-exposure to the inclement weather had led to Ed McKeever’s sickness. Unfortunately the cold turned into pneumonia and Ed died shortly after. Because Ed McKeever had been divorced and remarried, and his only son, who he had groomed to take over the club, had become estranged from him, the management of his shares went to his older brother Steve.


Eventually after the sorting out of the wills, the heirs of both Charles Ebbets and Ed McKeever owned 50% of the stock. The son in law of the late Charles Ebbets, one Joe Gilleaudeau, represented his family’s ownership along with Steve McKeever, who was known as the “Judge.” After the deaths of the two owners, Uncle Robby’s position became more difficult. He had been always a buffer between the two groups but a feud between him and Steve McKeever broke out.  Eventually after six more difficult years he was forced out in 1931. His old friend Colonel Huston made him president of the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern League in 1933. Unfortunately, a year later in 1934, he fell down a flight of stairs that resulted in many severe fractures. In the hospital he died of a heart attack. He was only 70, but since he had been around so long, people thought that he would have been much older.


The two principal heirs, level headed Joe Mulvey, McKeever’s son in law, who had an excellent job with MGM Pictures, and Joe Gilleaudeau, who worked for Stetson, were not baseball men. They were not willing to commit themselves full time to a business that was constantly losing money. Therefore, in 1945, after years of problems and a number of years after the death of Steve McKeever, they directed the families to divest themselves of 75% of the stock in the club for approximately $1,000,000. Three buyers came forth; the famous baseball man Branch Rickey (1881-1965), John L. Smith, a chemical manufacturer and Walter O’Malley, (1903-1979) who had been a lawyer for the Brooklyn Trust, which had a mortgage on Ebbets Field and had been part of their management team since 1942. O’Malley had been hired by the President of the Brooklyn Trust, one George V. McLaughlin in the 1930’s and was given the job of carrying out mortgage foreclosures against failing businesses. Later he was asked by McLaughlin to handle the legal affairs of the Dodgers. When McLaughlin put the deal together to buy the stock he included O’Malley who had acted like a son to him. Reporters wondered how O’Malley fit in the picture and whether he was just a stand-in for his boss. Branch Rickey had been a baseball man all his life, who had started his short major league playing career in 1903. He was out of baseball after a few mediocre seasons, graduated from Ohio Wesleyan College, coached baseball at the University of Michigan, where he earned his law degree and gained the nickname as the “Mahatma” for his theatrical religiosity. He came back into the major leagues in the years before World War I with the old St. Louis Browns team, was fired, and then enlisted and served in World War I. After the war he returned to St. Louis to work for the Cardinals. There he remained there for two decades, and though he was fired as their field manger in 1925, he remained in the front office and built the famous Gas House Gang Cardinal teams and created a multi-layered farm system that insured Cardinal success up and through the 1940’s.


Of course, at this time, O’Malley had to come up with approximately $346,667, and he borrowed most if not all of it. Mr. O’Hara told me that he had no money! But somehow he was able to raise it. It seemed that the triumvirate had only to put down $82,000 each. The remaining $800,000 was financed by $75,000 paid by Smith and O’Malley would pay $75,000 from his share of the future club profits. The Brooklyn Trust loaned the balance of the money. Of course the question remained, where did O’Malley even get the $82,000? 


In July of 1950, John L. Smith died of cancer, and change was in the wind. After a few rancorous years with O’Malley as his partner, Branch Rickey indicated that he wanted to sell his shares, but his partners had the right of first refusal. Smith, who had usually sided with O’Malley, would probably not have voted to remove Rickey as President, because he had made the Dodgers quite profitable. The team was successful, the farm system was stocked with young prospects and the Dodgers had never been as financially successful.  After Smith’s death, and his widow and the Brooklyn Trust were named his executors, O’Malley moved in on the widow. He convinced her to turn over her stock to his administration, and when that happened, he was in complete control of the club.


Even though Rickey had paid approximately $346,667 and that is what O’Malley offered him for his one-quarter share, he wanted $1,000,000. Rickey, as the operating partner and the general manager of the club, had reached the end of his five-year contract in 1948 and was now on a year-to-year contract renewal that paid him handsomely over $150,000 per year. The other partners, Mrs. Smith and Walter O’Malley, made a fraction of that amount as co-owners of a team that did not generate a great deal of profit and therefore dividends. O’Malley wanted to now get rid of Rickey in the worst way. He knew that Rickey was in debt, borrowed to the hilt on his life insurance, owned his stock on margin and was in a financial jam. He offered him the same figure that he had paid for the Dodgers, $346,667. He assumed that he would be desperate, unable to get a buyer for his minority stock, and would go away quietly.


Therefore, of course, Rickey had to come up quickly with a buyer who was willing to pay that sum of money. His old fraternity brother John Galbreath, a multi-millionaire, who owned the Pittsburgh Pirates, connected him with the New York builder William D. Zeckendorf, who offered him $1,050,000 for his shares. O’Malley was not happy but he had to come up with the same amount of money to match the offer. After the contracts were signed with Zeckendorf, O’Malley raised the money and Rickey was paid off. Zeckendorf supposedly received a $50,000 fee for his time and effort. But many believed that this so-called deal was just a sham, and the $50,000 check was later endorsed over to Rickey.  On paper it seemed like Branch Rickey finally had achieved financial security and had finessed O’Malley. He also was immediately hired by his old friend John Galbreath to become general manager of the Pirates. But not everything was as it seemed. Rickey had to pay the bank $300,000 to retire his debt, and the rest of the money was to be paid out over 10 years at $72,000 per year. Ultimately Rickey had to go into debt to pay his capital gains taxes in advance, so that the annual payment for the estate remained free and clear.


Ironically Rickey’s deal with Zeckendorf raised the value of the Dodger’s stock considerably and may have sowed the seeds for the Dodger departure from Brooklyn. O’Malley had to match his offer to remain in control of the Dodgers and probably from that day on he had cash flow problems. Though O’Malley was personally well off I assume that he felt almost immediately that he would have to build a new stadium to replace Ebbets Field, which had virtually no parking and only held 35,000 seats. When he saw the success of the former bankrupt Boston Braves, when they moved from their antiquated Commonwealth Avenue Braves Field, (now Boston University’s Nickerson Field,) to Milwaukee in 1953, he realized that the Dodgers would not be able to compete financially if they remained in the 42 year old Ebbets Field facility.


Meanwhile the so-called Golden Age of New York baseball had started with the end of the Second World War. The Giants who had dominated baseball in the early 1900’s had resurgence in the mid and late 1930’s under the leadership of “Memphis” Bill Terry and the skills of Mel Ott and Carl Hubbell. They led the National League in attendance in those Depression Years from 1933 to 1938, with an average of 10,034 persons per game! In 1933, when they were in the World Series they drew only 604,471 and led the league! Times changed and they again began to slip becoming a 2nd division team in between the managerial tenure of Mel Ott to the era of Leo Durocher, who came over from the Dodgers in 1949. In between those years their all-time high attendance peaked at 1,600,793 in 1947 and started to shrink to 653,923 in their last year in the Polo Grounds in 1957. Ironically they led the league in 1933 with 604,471 fans and went broke in 1957 with about the same attendance.


The Dodgers had been in a trough of failure from their pennant-winning year of 1920 until their resurgence with the front office management of Leland Stanford “Larry” McPhail and the field generalship of Leo “The Lip” Durocher in 1939. They had been in the 2nd division of the National League in 14 of those previous18 years! But in 1939 the Dodgers started their remarkable transformation from their days as the “Daffiness Boys” of the mid 1920’s until the unsuccessful reign of Casey Stengal as manager in the late 1930’s. From 1939 until their departure to Los Angeles in 1958, they finished in the top three in the league 18 out of 19 times. This included seven pennants and six-second place finishes. Even in their small ballpark they led the National League in attendance in ten of those years. In the war year of 1943 they led the National League with only 661,739 fans and by 1947 they almost tripled their attendance with an all-time Brooklyn high of 1,807,526 fans. Again, through the next ten years of the Golden Age their attendance would slip to a low of just over 1,000,000 fans and 5th in the league in 1957. This, of course, was the slippage and erosion of the fan base that Walter O’Malley was quite aware of and feared the most. Ebbets Field could not be expanded as it bordered on four city streets and extra parking was almost unavailable. During those final years in Brooklyn, O’Malley made, what seemed to be a “Herculean” effort to find another location in Brooklyn or Queens for the Dodgers, than affectionately known as “Dem Bums.” Many never thought that he had made enough of an effort. Later on sportswriters and people like Pete Hamill claimed that he had no real intentions of staying in New York. Hamill and others brought forth so-called documentary evidence of O’Malley’s real interest and desire of going to the “golden” west. But, there is no doubt that the politicians of the day, which included Mayor Robert F. Wagner and Park’s Commissioner Robert Moses fumbled the ball and allowed both Dodgers and Giants to leave. In truth, the city could probably not have supported two national League franchises, and the Giants, who were in much worse financial shape than the Dodgers, were going to leave anyway. The Polo Grounds was a horrible rusting hulk and the chances that a better location, with parking for the Giants was slim and none.


Meanwhile in the Bronx, and in the other league, the Yankees were also taking away entertainment dollars from the Dodgers. From 1920 until 1957 they led the league in attendance 30 times and finished second seven times. Only once in 1925, the year that the “Babe,” George Herman Ruth had his famous “belly-ache” did they not finish in the top two.  The Depression did not hurt attendance in the Bronx as badly as their neighbors in the other Boroughs because of their great lineup of stars, winning ways, and bigger ballpark. But also in the war year of 1943, with people working double shifts in war plants, attendance shrunk to only 618,330 and they still led the league! Like all of baseball, peace brought the fans into the parks in droves. The stronger American League with the bigger ballparks showed tremendous increases in fan interest. The Yankees started a remarkable run of five years of 2 million plus fans in 1946. That explosion in fan interest peaked with a then New York City baseball record of 2,373,901 in 1948, a year where the Yanks finished in 3rd place. In those five years they drew 11,183,406 fans to the Bronx. The Yankees would not match those numbers again until 30 years later (1976-1980). The Dodgers, even in their greatest years (1946-1950) drew only 7,822,960, and the Giants 6,507,259. Therefore the Yankees were drawing about 80% of the combined total of the other two New York teams who were also doing quite well on the field! To put that in even greater perspective, the Dodgers from 1921 until 1938, a period of 18 years from their last pennant until the beginning of their emergence as a National League power only drew 11,438,887 fans or an average of 8,253 per game. The Yankees during that five-year period averaged 29,047 fans per game.


O’Malley was well aware of the impact that air travel would have on the country, and was also cognizant of the financial condition of the Giants, his cross-town rival. Horace Stoneham, the owner of the Giants was really losing money. Their attendance was hundreds of thousands less than the Dodgers per season and they were seriously considering moving to Minneapolis, the location and home of their top Minor League franchise, the Millers. With this in mind, O’Malley was really in a panic. If the Giants moved from New York their age-old natural rivalry would end! Therefore the seeds were planted for a cross-country move to the West Coast. O’Malley was wise enough to make sure that San Francisco would welcome the Giants with “open arms” while he was planning to go to Los Angeles. Of course O’Malley knew his business. The first year they were out in Los Angeles they broke their franchise record for attendance. The next year they went over 2,000,000 fans, and since that inaugural season out west they have been over 2,000,000 forty-one times in 44 seasons. They have even broken the 3 million mark 19 times. No club, not even the Yankees have approached those marks. The Yankees have only passed the 2 million mark 29 times in their legendary history and have only passed 3 million seven times. The Giants weren’t so lucky. Their early seasons were decently successful. They drew over 1 million up until 1968 when attendance started to slide, and they hit bottom in 1974 when they drew only 519,987 or 6,420 per game. Eventually attendance crept back up in the 1980’s. They finally broke 2 million when they won the pennant in 1989. Success finally arrived along with Barry Bonds and the Giants broke into the 3 million mark the last six seasons. In fact, in 2000 the Giants outdrew the Dodgers for the first time in attendance since they were both in New York in 1954 when the Giants won the pennant and World Series. It only took 52 years!


The Golden Age, which saw this great “on field” dominance of New York teams, finally came to an end in 1957. The Yankees had won the pennant 10 times with one 2nd place finish. The Dodgers had won the National League flag four times and finished 2nd four times, and the Giants won the pennant twice and finished 2nd three times. Every year, except 1948, one of the New York teams was in the World Series, and nine World Championships came to New York in those eleven years. The Dodgers and Giants long run in New York had come to a close. The previous ten years had seen the emergence of the Dodgers as superpower in the National League, but that was not enough to keep them in New York.


Names like Robinson, Snider, Campanella, Reese, Hodges, Furillo, Erskine, Loes, Cox, Newcome, and Gilliam soon became memories like the ones that they followed. There are few old-timers around these days that can remember Nap Rucker, Zach Wheat, Rube Marquard, Dazzy Vance, Babe Herman, Dolph Camilli, Whitlow Wyatt, Hugh Casey, Pete Reiser, Freddie Fitzsimmons, Max Carey or Burleigh Grimes. Ebbets Field was the fan’s connection to those early days of baseball in New York. The Brooklyn Dodgers are now ancient history and they have been out of New York almost 50 years. Amazingly it will not be long before Shea Stadium becomes older than Ebbets Field. Who would have thought of that back in the middle 1950’s when the Yankees, Dodgers and Giants ruled baseball?

Letter to the Editor 7-20-06 Answering Letter on Lebanon

July 20, 2006


Letter to the NY Times Editor:


In today’s edition of the Times, Mr. Mohamed Khodr quotes the historian Arnold Toynbee about the Jews and Palestine to support his argument that the United States has been unfair in its support of Israel. According to Mr. Khodr, the Israelis had indiscriminately killed many more innocent Lebanese than the Hezbollah had killed Israelis. What he conveniently left out is that so-called innocent Lebanon has been the willing “host” to this known and recognized terrorist group of brigands. This group, despite the UN Resolution 1559, which called for its disarmament, has terrorized northern Israel for years with hundreds of missile attacks.


With regards to Toynbee, one has to only read D.C Somervell’s abridged version of Toynbee’s A Study in History, volume two, pages, 177-8, to see how anti-Semitic he was. Toynbee attempts to couch his own prejudices by making all sorts of accusations about the founding of Israel, and the rise of Zionism, coinciding with the rise of German neo-anti-Semitism in the pre-1918 German-speaking territories of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In reality the land of Israel, which had been the ancestral home of Jewry for thousands of years, was made virtually Judenrein, free of Jews, by the “Diaspora” caused by outside conquerors (Babylonians and Romans). European anti-Semitism, brought to a disastrous crescendo by the Nazis obviously accelerated the demand for a Jewish Homeland. Toynbee talks about the dispossession from the land of Palestine of hundreds of thousands of Arabs. Again he conveniently forgets that first of all Jews always lived in that area of the world, and second of all Jewish settlers paid for their land, mostly unoccupied desert, from the Ottoman Turks, who controlled Palestine and from absentee Egyptian landholders. The Palestinians and the Arab world rejected the UN partition in 1947, war ensued, and many Palestinians voluntarily left their homes encouraged by the prospects of a quick Arab victory over the nascent Jewish State.


Ironically the Arabs want it both ways. They want to refer back to their so-called dispossession as a result of their losses in the 1948 war, but they also want to ignore the earlier history that Jews lived on that land two thousand years before the Common Era. Peace can come to the Middle East when the Arab states stop their own endless fratricide and recognize that keeping Israel as their ultimate scapegoat won’t solve their problems.


Richard J. Garfunkel

Letters of James Zogby of the Arab-American Institute July 10, 2006

Letters to James Zogby, of the Arab-American


Washington D.C.- July 10, 2006

Richard J. Garfunkel





Most of us, including you are one-sided to one degree or another. I addressed the reality of Israel and today's Arab-Muslim world. All I ask is for the Arab people to consider which direction they wish to go! Do they wish to be in the backwater of history, dominated by oligarchs and an oppressive un-democratic class society, quite often dominated by religious zealots, or do they wish to advance and deal with modernity. The reason I wrote you was because you live in the west and do take the pulse of the people as a profession.


You say I am one-sided and I should read more of the Palestinians and their history. But did you address the points that I made or are they just meaningless echoes resonating around you. I can only assume that you believe that time, demographics and numbers will eventually win your war to recover the date trees of Jaffa. But to me that is another pipe dream.


I am always amazed that one thinks that begging the issue answers the question. Reading more about the Arab world seems a bit redundant these days. All I had to do was to open the “NY Times” and read the “narrative” about the slaughter of 42 Sunnis that were pulled out of their cars and homes and killed in a “spasm of revenge by Shiite militias for the bombing of a Shiite mosque…” Is this the civilized “narrative” of that world?


What sane people do those types of acts? Maybe the Israelis should have torched the Temple Mount in 1967. That would have ended that issue. It would have been tit-for-tat for all of the Palestinian/Arab/Moslem abuse of the Western Wall and the Old City where they placed a pigsty in 1948. It would have been sweet revenge for all of the Jewish graves, religious and Holy sites that were desecrated and looted. But no, the Moslem Holy Sites still remain! I was there and saw them. I went onto to Temple Mount with respect; I was in the other Holy places sacred to Christians and Moslems. Funny how the Jews, while fighting a Jihad for decades still respect the sanctity of religious belief. (Even many Arab historians deny the existence of a Temple on that sacred ground. Therefore they must deny that even Jesus walked there or that a King David or Solomon even existed.)


I await an answer to all the mindlessness of violence that pervades the Arab world and why it continues to exist. I await an answer to my points of how the Jews affect all the senseless barbarism amongst and between Sunnis and Shiites and between Arabs and Christians all over the world. For sure the presence of Jews in Israel can't really impact on the Balkans or Darfur or for that matter on any other place around this wide world?






Your view is too one-sided–read more. It will aid you in reaching a more comprehensive understanding of the entire situation. You understand the Israeli narrative. It would help you to understand how the Palestinians see their history.




Dr. James Zogby



Dr. James Zogby


Arab American Institute

Washington, DC 20006

202-429-9210 x23



An answer to James Zogby:


I read your well-constructed piece on Truthout. Generally I could agree with you that one soldier's life is not equivalent to 1.5 million citizens. On the surface this is true.But history has shown that a strong minority can take over a country and through what ever means at their hands,  they can lead a nation. This has happened more often than not. In a sense a country or nation is held to a standard collective guilt for the actions of its government or military. Certainly Israel getcriticism constantly for efforts to defend its own people. In 1914 Pancho Villa crossed the Mexico-Texas border, robbed banks in Brownsville and killed American citizens. General Pershing was sent with an American force in search of Villa and stayed there for a considerable period of time. Again no society can tolerate it s borders being violated and its citizens being killed and maimed.


The Italian people went along with Mussolini without too much of a question in the early 1920's, and the Italian dictator Il Duce led them into foreign adventures in Abyssinia and Libya. When he sided with Hitler in 1939 and signed their Pact of Steel he committed his country and its people to a fate that they might not have considered possible or would have chosen.


Regardless of the fact that you are of Arab extraction and that I am a grandson of European-Jewish immigrants that came here in the 1880's we are both Americans. I know that you understand history, and you can bet that I do also. Whether you agree on the legitimacy of Israel or not, you must understand that they have been a sovereign and democratic nation for a great many years. In fact, they have been a nation state much longer than a majority of the UN members today. They have stood the test of time, 1,000,000 Moslem Arabs along with other minorities live in peace in Israel. They have the rights of citizenship, travel, work, education and can socialize with whom they wish. They have extra special rights because they do not have to serve in the military and it seems on the surface that they would prefer an Israeli government that guarantees all these rights, along with prosperity over the chaos that inhabits most of the Arab-Moslem World.


The story of internecine Arab-Moslem strife is unending. The 80 -year history of Iraq is rife with that reality. They were a violent society for decades, only interrupted by period of forced order by dictators. Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Libya, have been dictatorships forever. Egypt and the Saudis are basically run by oligarchies. Mubarek is a quasi-dictator and Iran, which is not an Arab state, is becoming a feudal basket case and a threat to their region and the rest of the world. Sudan is starving millions of its own citizens. But the issue of the Palestinians remains foremost in the minds of many Arabs and Muslims. Is not Jordan a Palestinian Muslim state? Did they not have control over the so-called West Bank from 1948 thru 1967? Why didn't they absorb that area and its people, or make it independent? They didn't want to! They kept it alive as a problem, because they knew that the creation of a West Bank Palestinian state would have led to the de facto recognition of Israel. the so-called Palestinian refugee camps around the Arab World are the only refugee camps that still exist. All the others that were created by the wars and genocidal conduct in the 20th Century were assimilated into other nation states. Only where Muslim and non-Muslim exist as neighbors is there ongoing strife; Kashmir, the Philippines, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans. What is the reason? I am sure we both know it.


Is Israel or World Jewry unaware of that reality? You compare the horrible murder of Kitty Genovese to Gaza and the security of Israel. To me that comparison is invidious. Israel has been feeling the sting of Fedeyeen terrorism and intrusions for fifty plus years. Hundreds if not thousands of their people have been murdered and maimed. This soldier only represents the most recent case. You and I are acutely aware of that fact. Currently the Arab-Muslim world is in chaos once again. Whose fault is that? Is that the fault of Israel? Is the poverty and religious strife with the Moslem world the fault of Israel? Is Osama bin Ladin and his opposition to the Saudi princes the fault of Israel? Are the Taliban religious madmen the fault of Israel? Was the Shah the fault of Israel? Are the Mullahs in Teheran the fault of Israel? Was the Syrian political assassinations and terrorism in Lebanon the fault of Israel? Is and was the corruption of Arafat and his brigands the fault of Israel? Were the devastating Iranian-Iraqi Wars over Israel? Was the invasion of Kuwait because of Israel? 


If Israel did not exist all of these same things would have happened or be happening. If oil did not exist in the Middle East no one would care one iota about fratricidal conduct amongst Arabs and Muslims. Therefore without oil, the west would support democratic Israel without question!  In other words your concern for Gaza and the Gazans may be genuinely emotional and humane. But what have they done to change their attitudes and therefore their future. In the wake of the destruction of Fascism and Communism, those states and their peoples looked for change. They trashed their history and they went from bitterness to self-examination. They brought success out of the ruins. They evolved from dictatorship and totalitarianism to democracy. When will the Arab-Muslim world learn their lesson and end the bitterness that pervades between Shiite and Sunni? When will they stop worrying about Jews?


It is funny that 1 million Arab Muslims can live in peace in Israel. It is funny that Jews from all over the Arab World, and from multiple cultures and races can live in peace and basic harmony in Israel. It is funny that thousands of Christians, both Arab and non-Arab can live in peace in Israel, but 100 Jews cannot live in peace in Hebron. Why do a billion Muslims and 100 million Arabs worry about a few million Jews? Are they so insecure?


I would love to see peace in the Middle East. I believe that it can come. But the “pipe dream” of a Palestinian dominated Israel will not come about. The Palestinians must come to the realization that they are their own worst enemy. They must understand that their destiny is tied to their own sense of worth. They must strive to end violence, accept the reality of Israel and form partnerships of hope and toleration that will eventually bring peace and prosperity.


RJ Garfunkel 



The Kangeroo Court and the Cabal 7-5-06

The Kangaroo Court and the Cabal


Richard J. Garfunkel

July 5, 2006



Last night a privileged few of had the dubious pleasure of attending the latest chapter of the Greenburgh Town Board’s ongoing Star Chamber event. For all of you that have heard the term but do not know its derivation, a Star Chamber was a royal court that began in England in the Middle Ages; cases were heard there without juries. Usually it was known for their tyrannical judgments. The name came from the stars that were painted on the ceiling of the Court.


Of course this most recent addition of the Board’s and the CABAL’s latest witch-hunt put Judge Thomas Facelle on the Board’s hot seat last night. Judge Facelle, a man with impeccable credentials, 50+ years as a lawyer and a judge, 23 years in the Westchester County’s District Attorney’s office and a retired Brigadier General in the US Army’s Judge Advocate General’s law division, has been the Chairperson of the Greenburgh Ethic’s Board for twelve years.


Of course Judge Facelle was dragged in front of this rump session of the Town Board as a way of embarrassing him and the Supervisor. While the Supervisor was away this session was scheduled and the CABAL (the group of Feiner haters) had plans to turn this into one of their three ring circuses. But unfortunately for them, things turned out differently. Judge Facelle systematically reviewed the history of this so-called cover up regarding these unsubstantiated ethics violation by the Supervisor. It seems that Supervisor Feiner asked the Ethics Board to review a campaign contribution made to him. But, at the same time, Ed Kraus, and others decided to file charges against the Supervisor with the District Attorney’s office. Judge Facelle addressed this issue brilliantly. Because charges with the DA were filed against the Supervisor, he (Facelle) and his Board prudently decided to await the decision of the DA’s office. Of course the DA’s office not only quashed and dismissed these spurious charges and claims, but in their own inefficient way never advised or notified Supervisor Feiner, Judge Facelle or the Supervisor’s attackers. Therefore this specious case and its dismissal, promulgated by Bob Bernstein, Ed Krauss and other groups, had been in limbo since November of 2004. When Judge Facelle finally heard of the dismissal, in the past few days, he now was at liberty to consult the other members of the Ethics Board about reviewing these charges. Judge Facelle handled himself brilliantly under a withering but futile attack by Councilperson Bass who attempted to charge him with prejudging the case. Judge Facelle answered all of the questions posed to him by Councilpersons Bass and Sheehan who seemed astonished by the strength, authority and legitimacy of Judge Facelle’s position. Judge Facelle then presented to the Board a package that reflected the timeline of this so-called case and the relevant documentation that supported his testimony.


Of course many of the same characters that hate the Supervisor were there. These are the same people who wish to constantly wish subvert the will of the electorate by smear, innuendo and baseless charges.


After the Judge’s bravura performance in front of the Board, Mr. Ed Kraus demanded that he be allowed to speak several times. But the Supervisor asked the Board their opinion on this matter. Supervisor Feiner stated that if one person wished to talk all should have that right. Of course, Judge Facelle already had stated that he and his Board would entertain the charges of the complainants, assuming they had merit, allow them to attend their hearing, when it was held, and only allow relevant and pertinent evidence to be submitted, not political hyperbole and diatribes.


Councilperson Barnes wisely agreed with the position of closing the hearings to other interested parties and Bass and Sheehan grudgingly had to go along with Supervisor Feiner, Councilperson Juettner and Barnes. 


Since Councilperson Bass wants the Ethics Board to look into Supervisor Feiner’s campaign contributions, I think that the Ethics Board should look into his. Council Bass publicly opposed renting space at the Town Board to the Westchester Federal credit Union or to any other organization. He received a contribution from the Credit Union, did not recuse himself and changed his mind.—voting to rent space at this location. Why did Bass change his mind? Was he influenced by the contribution? Shouldn’t he request the Ethics Board to review his action? Councilperson Bass also accepted contributions from those who actively the proposed legislation to tighten our tree code. The tree legislation that has been recommended by the Conservation Advisory Commission has gone nowhere. Did these contributions influence Councilperson Bass’s decision to delay a vote on this important issue?


Over the last number of years this CABAL of haters, have been attacking Supervisor with all sorts of charges. Many of these people have created a career of such actions. I say to them “get a life!” I have known the Supervisor for 35 years or so. I therefore volunteered a few years ago to help Supervisor Feiner set the record straight. Supervisor Feiner does not have a political organization, he does not have a patronage system, but he does have friends in this community that respect his hard work, dedication and honesty and excellent grasp of public policy. Supervisor Feiner has been in the public sector for over 25 years as an elected official and has been an activist for way over 35 years. His public record is second to none. His accomplishments are well known and respected, his honesty and commitment to people is legendary, but his small core of haters is relentless. I ask his supporters to rise up and to show their support for him and their indignation at his vicious opponents.

“Band of Brothers”, The HBO Docu-Drama and Where it Stands July 4, 2006

Band of Brothers, the HBO Docu-Drama


Where it Stands in WWII Film History


Richard J. Garfunkel

July 4, 2006



A few years ago I had the good fortune to see the complete HBO production of Stephen Ambrose’s 1992 book Band of Brothers. After seeing the 10 episode program that docu-dramas the 506th Regiment, “E” (Easy) Company of the famed 101st Airborne Division from it formation in Georgia to its occupying Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, I decided finally to buy the book.


I therefore went to the Amazon website to see if the book was available, and it was. I also picked up Major Richard Winters’ autobiography, Beyond the Band of Brothers, the War Memoirs, and The Filthy Thirteen, From the Dustball to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest by Richard Killblane and Jake McNiece, the story of 13 rugged Paratroopers who served as a squad of “pathfinders” for the main paratroop attacks. I never really was a fan of Stephen Ambrose, and I have always regarded him as an apologist for both Eisenhower and Nixon. For those who are unaware, he has written multiple volumes on both men. Having little interest in both of those men or their presidencies, I can honestly say that I have not read his books on them. But I happened to read his book on D-Day, D-Day, June 6, 1944, along with three others; Crazy Horse and Custer, Nothing Like it in the World, and The Wild Blue.


Ambrose, with his avid interest in General Eisenhower, whom he met in 1964, became a chronicler of the American Expeditionary Force in Western Europe during Eisenhower’s command of SHAEF, which stands for Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. Therefore with this connection and his fondness for Ike, Ambrose had focused basically on our actions from Normandy to VE Day. Through his interest in this phase of the war he became a founder, in 1991, of the D-Day Museum in his hometown of New Orleans.. The museum was finally opened in the year 2000. Of course the D-Day operation, and its eventual success, was very much dependent on the LCVP boat which stands for Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel. In 1940 we had none, and by 1944 we had 30,000 in service. The man most responsible for this production was a New Orleans boat manufacturer named Andrew Higgins (1886-1952). Higgins, who also produced 199 PT Boats for the navy in World War II, (The Higgins’s boat was 78 foot long. and it was similar, but more advanced than the 80 foot long Elco PT-109 Boat that John F. Kennedy commanded in the Solomon’s. Lt. Commander (ret) Fred W. Rosen, 1917-2003, a first cousin once removed of my wife Linda, also captained PT Boat-207 in WWII). The front-opening ramp-typed LCVP was basically copied from the Japanese similar styled craft that had been used in China since 1937. Higgins created a proto-type, and by 1939 he had it in trials on Lake Ponchartrain near New Orleans. Because Eisenhower had stated that Andrew Higgins’s production of LCVP’s was most essential to the winning of WWII, that view was not lost on Ambrose. (Today there remains only eight PT Boats left. Two are preserved in the Battleship Cove Naval Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts. Both boats, an ELCO and a Higgins model sit next to the retired battleship USS Massachusetts (BB-59, 35,000 tons 9-16” gun, commissioned in March of 1942, and stayed in active service until 1962. I have had the pleasure of climbing up, down and around its massive decks a number of times. The last time we were there it was on our way from Boston to Newport with our kids and cousins the Shifrins.)


Of course historian Stephen Ambrose (1936-2002, who was a heavy smoker and died of lung cancer) got into considerable trouble regarding the problems of plagiarism, especially with his book The Wild Blue. He claimed that the quotes in his book were attributed but quotation marks were mistakenly left out. (New York Sun, October 14, 2002) That of course was his defense. But in reality some of his later books were churned out by a team of writer’s led by his son, and in their seeming haste, full paragraphs were directly lifted from other sources. Of course the timing couldn’t have been worse for Ambrose, who became fatally ill, and did not have any time to rehabilitate his flawed reputation.


Ironically though, the HBO production, which was quite loyal to the Ambrose book, wound up being much better. The only part that I thought substantially differed was the story and further reflection on Captain Herbert Sobel, who was the original commanding officer of “Easy” Company. Captain Sobel, who was a severe martinet, eventually because of his inability to “lead” men in the field, was transferred out from the 506th Battalion. Sobel, in both the book version of Band of Brothers, and Lt. Richard Winters’ autobiography; his personal account as on of the leaders “E” Company, was given much more sympathetic credit regarding his preparation of the company through their intense physical training. Sobel, who was Jewish, was characterized, in the book, as that f—king Jew, by many of the men, was responsible for the all of night marches and exercises that prepared “Easy” Company quite well for their eventual nocturnal parachute drops and their ability to reconnoiter in the dark. Frankly the men of “E” Company were not any more prejudiced than others of their time, and Private Joseph Liebgott, one of the Jewish soldiers in “E” Company was treated well, acted heroically, served as their interpreter. Pfc. Liebgott, who was understandingly much more anti-German than the rest of the Americans, wound up going out with a small squad to search out a known high ranking German SS soldier, who had been head of a slave labor detention area. The German soldier was accused by many of the DPs (Displaced Persons, a term commonly used for Jews and other refugees who had become slave laborers far from their native lands or were just prisoners in Concentration Camps.) of being guilty of numerous atrocities. After Private Liebgott’s interrogation, the man was escorted out of his hillside hide away by Liebgott and summarily shot!


Of course Captain Sobel was an impossibly difficult person, who had immense personality problems with his fellow officers, the NCOs and the men. When an incident involving the Lt. Winters escalated into a court martial, the leadership of the regiment, under the excellent command of Colonel Robert Sink (1905-65,West Point, 1927, retired as a Lt. General 1961) understood the problem regarding Captain Sobel and had him transferred out of the command of “E” Company to duty which he was better prepared. (Sobel never seemed to recover from his wartime problems and had a miserable embittered life possibly because of his “E” Company experiences, which resulted in divorce, alienation from his children, poverty, attempted suicide and a lonely death.)


I have been a lifelong student of World War II and fan of the countless war movies that depicted almost every facet and theme of the war from the home front to each theater of operations all over the world. After seeing almost all of these films from the earliest efforts in the beginning of war to Saving Private Ryan (1998), I believe that Band of Brothers was by far the greatest production and the most meaningful to me. It had all the drama, action, pathos and realism that anyone would really want and desire. It was as graphic and daunting as Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and it was 10 hours long and had over 128 people in the cast along with retrospectives from the actual soldiers reflecting on their memories of 50 years back.


As a very young boy I was exposed to a remarkable four-volume Time-Life pictorial and chronological history of the Second World War. My father bought the 1600 page set of books right after the war and it wasn’t long until I discovered it. It traced pictorially all the history, almost day by day, from September 1, 1939, when the German Army crossed the Polish frontier to the surrender on September 2, 1945, on the deck of the Battleship Missouri (BB-63- 45,000 tons, 9-16” guns-an Iowa Class ship and the last of the line of Dreadnaughts that had been in service since 1906) in Tokyo Bay. Every important personage, offensive, battle and atrocity was covered over those tumultuous years. Because of the starkness and visual obscenity of the war, my father was not happy that I was constantly looking at the books. But in spite of his futile attempts to keep the books out of my reach, I found ways to get to them even when they were placed at the highest level of our family room bookshelf. My earliest memories regarding the reading or looking at any books were of those volumes. Interestingly, in those four volumes and 1600 plus pages, there is only one full-page portrait of an individual. It was not of a war hero, or a general, or an enlisted man, but of President Roosevelt (1882-1945, President 1933-45). The date is, of course, April 12, 1945, and the page is a black-bordered formal portrait of the then late President. As a young boy who had hardly learned to read, I was intrigued by the somberness of the picture, and, of course, the following pages picturing his funereal dirge. I brought the book to my mother and asked her who he was. She answered emotionally that he was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and she simply said “The War Leader.” As I recall, it was the first time I had really heard that famous name.


In conversations with my parents, over the next 55 years, that name would be frequently mentioned and my parents, who held FDR in such awe, never had a word of criticism directed his way.  The books opened my eyes to history and the incredibly vast specter of World War II. It was not long after that I became enraptured with the 1952 production of Victory At Sea (26- thirty minute episodes), the magnificent voice of Leonard Graves and the equally brilliant score by Richard Rodgers. To this day I can still hum the great musical themes that accompanied the action portrayed in that grainy black film. (One of the reasons that it was so dark was that most of it was shot originally in color, and because there was also black and white film, and television transmission was in black and white, all the negatives had to be made into black and white positives.) Later on, there would be other notable television documentaries as: Uncommon Valor with Holland Smith (former Marine Lt. General Holland “Howlin’ Mad” Smith), Air Power with Walter Cronkite, The World at War with Lawrence Olivier, The Gathering Storm with Richard Burton, Crusade in Europe and the Pacific with the great voice of Westbrook van Voorhis and numerous other programs with great narrators like Alexander Scourby. All in all, there was much to see if one was interested.


By the time I was twelve I had read most of the World War II books in the large Mount Vernon Public Library. I can remember vividly titles like; Medals for Marines, Guadal- canal Diary, Crusade in Europe, The Lady Lex (after the WWII carrier Lexington), Queen of the Flattops (The carrier Yorktown), The Story of GI Joe, This is Your War,   G-D Was My Co-Pilot, Baa-Baa Black Sheep, They Were Expendable, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, The Story of GI Joe, and The Colditz Story. Many of these books and later ones like The Longest Day, Is Paris Burning? and A Bridge to Far were made into excellent movies. But the greatest of all World War II histories of that era was the 15-volume masterpiece by Professor, and later Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, (1887-1976), The United States Naval Operation in World War II. Though controversial and eternally debated by naval buffs and officers active and retired, it still remains the Bible of naval actions in World War II. Morison, our most pre-eminent naval and maritime historian, was a Professor at Harvard, and author of many books, when he was asked by FDR to serve on as many naval ships as he could, and record the events as they unfolded. This enabled him to be in the most pivotal position to write the definitive naval history of the war. Morison, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning Admiral of the Ocean Sea, did just that. He served on almost every type of vessel during the war and these experiences helped him understand the workings and dynamics of a great navy at war.(I got to meet Samuel Eliot Morison, in 1968, at Mount Holyoke College, when the late Henry M. Littlefield, the Dean of Men at Amherst, and my great friend and mentor, invited me to attend a class led by Professor Henry Steele Commager, (1902-1998) who was lecturing at Amherst’s sister college. They co-authored The Growth of the American Republic, 1930, and later the Oxford History of the United States, 1980. Samuel Eliot Morison is honored by a bronze statue of him on Commonwealth Avenue in Back Bay, Boston, and a naval frigate is named after him, The USS Samuel Eliot Morison, FFG-13.)


Since those days I have been collecting and reading books on World War II. Of course in looking through the 400 or so titles in my library, one comes easily to the realization that most books on WWII are not made into movies. There are books recording the history of a ships: The Big “E”, the HMS Sheffield, the Lady “Lex” or Brave Men, Brave Ship, or numerous ones about the Arizona. Many are about specific battles or attacks: At Dawn We Slept, Tennazon, or D-Day.  Others are biographies and autobiographies of important personages of the war, both political and military: FDR, Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Halsey, King, Marshall, Eisenhower, Bradley, MacArthur, Patton, Montgomery, Stillwell, Harris, Arnold and others. Many now are of lesser personalities, but are still considered quite important on a more localized level: Ridgeway, Taylor, Clark, Mitscher, Spruance, Chennault and countless others.


Many of the early war-related films that were made at the start of the conflict, were romanticized, and obviously used for patriotic and propagandistic motivation.

There was nothing wrong or unusual with that because most of the studios were opposed to the Nazis and the rise of totalitarian Fascism. Jewish interests controlled most of the major studios, and though the studio heads were not particularly liberal, they, on one hand generally opposed Nazi persecution of Jews, and on the other hand were afraid of alienating the large German distribution market. Therefore not all of the studios were enthusiastic about using their business and art as an extension of their own private political and social fears. Probably, of all of them, Warner Brothers took the lead in dealing with the more current problems that were erupting worldwide with regards to the emerging struggle against Nazism. Confessions of a Nazi Spy, (1939), with Edward G. Robinson, was released just before the outbreak of war. 20th Century Fox came out with the hard-hitting drama Four Sons, (1940) of a Czech family dealing with the crisis that started in the Sudetenland and ended with the fall of Warsaw. MGM also contributed with the Mortal Storm, (1940), which dealt with the conflicts within a German family over support for Nazi politics. RKO’s Hitler’s Children (1943) focused on the indoctrination of a generation of young people into the Hitler Youth. Preparedness issues were covered in Dive Bomber (1941) with Errol Flynn and I Wanted Wings, (1941). Tyrone Power starred as an American volunteer in A Yank in the RAF (1941) for Fox.


When we entered the war after Pearl Harbor those considerations became moot. The early films like Paramount’s Wake Island (1942) and MGM’s Bataan (1943) sent the message that our boys in uniforms and our nurses were brave, diverse and patriotic. Death, dying and being wounded was also seen in a mostly antiseptic light. But the nurses serving in that sector of the war were remembered in So Proudly We Hail (1943) with Claudette Colbert and Cry Havoc (1943) with Joan Blondell and Margaret Sullavan. As the war proceeded almost every aspect of it was covered. Whether it was the “Mosquito Fleet” helping to rescue the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkerque in Mrs. Minver (1942) and Mrs. Miniver/Greer Garson’s confrontation with a shot-down Luftwaffe pilot or the Battle of Midway featured in Wing and a Prayer (1944) with Don Ameche and Charles Bickford, the human elements regarding bravery, and sacrifice were always emphasized. By the end of the worldwide conflict every theater of the war, and almost every battle of note was featured.


Submarine dramas with Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Burt Lancaster in pictures like Destination Tokyo (1943) Run Silent Run Deep (1958), and Up Periscope (1959) chronicled the war in the Pacific. Often these intrepid commanders wouldventure even into the home waters of the Japanese inland sea, but until the German productin Das Boot (1981) many years later, the real horror, claustrophobia and anxiety of undersea warfare had never really been described in such agonizing detail. Captain Eddie (1945) and Lifeboat (1944), with Tallulah Bankhead and William Bendix, brought forth, in graphic detail, the agony and despair facing many of the countless victims of torpedo attacks stranded on the open seas. Naval actions against famous and powerful German capital ships like the Bismarck and the Graf Spee, reflected the mighty contribution of the Royal Navy. In the same way, Hollywood often made major features about the Battle of Midway, the actions of Admiral Halsey and his hit and run tactics, and numerous high budget treatments regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor, as James Jones’ novel turned into the film From Here to Eternity (1953) with Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Cliff, and Frank Sinatra,  Tora Tora, Tora! (1970), an excellent documentary told the story from both sides of the Pacific, and Pearl Harbor (2001), a more fanciful and technological treatment that was not appreciated by critics or the box office, also told the story of the Day of Infamy.


The War in the Pacific had many opportunities for filmmakers to capitalize on the variety of action. The Pacific War was basically a naval war stretched over hundreds of thousands of square miles of open ocean. The brunt of the fighting involved the navy and its ability to transport its Marine military arm to mostly out of the way barely inhabited places where the Imperial Japanese armed forces had either conquered or re-enforced. Of course many of the islands looked the same, but each had a theoretical strategic importance and therefore had a story all its own. But places like Saipan, Kwajalein, Peliliu, and others took a back seat to the better-known battles at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  The Marines received the lion’s share of the coverage, where in the Western Pacific under the command of General MacArthur, the US my’s infantry’s efforts in New Guinea were largely overlooked. As MacArthur moved into the Philippines more Hollywood interest was shown with the film Back to Bataan (1945). After the war the film American Guerilla in the Philippines (1950) with Tyrone Power told of American-Filipino resistance to the Japanese occupation.


Early on in the war, the Germans invaded North Africa. The British 8th Army’s victories and losses at El Alamein and Tobruk, against General Erwin Rommel, The Desert Fox (1951) were covered in films like The Immortal Sergeant, (1943) Sahara (1943), Five Graves to Cairo (1943), Tobruk (1967) and many others. Eventually the film Patton (1970) told how we turned around our early failures in North Africa, especially after the Battle of Kasserine Pass, and went on to victory by bottling up the remnants of the German Army in Tunisia. Italy was invaded and the struggles and mistakes at both landings; Anzio (1968) and Salerno were covered in a number of film treatments. Both Fox’s A Walk in the Sun (1945) and UA’s The Story of GI Joe (1945) reflected two different and extreme climatic conditions facing the troops in both sunny and muddy Italy. The Story of GI Joe was a very realistic, documentary type treatment seen through the eyes of the famous war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Pyle (1900-1945, a Scripps-Howard reporter and columnist, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944, and was killed in action covering the US Marines on le Shima Island off Okinawa in August of 1945) played by Burgess Meredeth along with Robert Mitchum, starring as an Army Captain, were able to convey the utter waste and futility regarding the Allied frontal attack on the ruined ancient monastery of Monte Casino as the Allied armies crossed the Rapido River. (John Ford’s contribution to the Why We Fight, 1943-5, series coordinated by Frank Capra included a vivid documentary of that action showing American servicemen killed in action.). Unfortunately there were many armies from many Allied countries, in the fight for Casino, and they were basically ignored. It was produced, viewed and covered from the American perspective.


In the same way, in Objective Burma, (1945) Errol Flynn, an Australian from Tasmania, played an American soldier leading American troops in Burma without a mention of the British and the great leader of Chindit Force (from Chinthe, the mythical Burmese lion) commanded by Orde Wingate (1903-1944, British Major-General and ardent Zionist and ally of the Jewish community in Palestine in the late 1930’s), who did the vast brunt of the fighting. This unfortunate and insulting omission soured British audiences and historians for years to come. Paramount released The Story of Dr. Wassell, (1944) with Gary Cooper that chronicled a heroic doctor’s efforts in war-torn Java. The story was inspired by a Fireside Chat, given by President Roosevelt, and heard by director Cecil B. De Mille. China wasn’t left out long as the story of our early American Volunteer Group pilots in Flying Tigers (1942) with John Wayne, and G-d is My Co-Pilot (1945) was told along with Dragon Seed (1944) with Katherine Hepburn and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944).


In the Pacific, John Wayne and Robert Montgomery, commanded PT Boats in MGM’s They Were Expendable (1945) and portrayed fictional sailors based on the heroic evacuation of General MacArthur from Corregidor by Lt. Commander and later Admiral John D. Bulkeley, (1911-1996, Annapolis, Class of 1933), who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his effort. Later, as the war advanced in the wake of the American aircraft carrier Hornet’s, (CV-8, 20,000 tons, launched in 1940 and sunk in 1942) launching the attack on Tokyo, both Spencer Tracy playing Doolittle (Colonel and Later Lt. General James Doolittle, 1896-1993, Medal of Honor winner) and Van Johnson as Ted W. Lawson (one of the pilots of a B-25 in the Doolittle raid who lost his leg in the crash of their plane in China,) were quite realistic in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, (1944). As a consequence of the attack some of the pilots were shot down and captured.

Dana Andrews’s fine performance in the stark and haunting film Purple Heart (1944) dealt with the unfortunate American pilots who were shot down, captured, tortured, tried and executed as a consequence of that raid. A Wing and a Prayer (1943) told of the anxiety of naval air warfare in the Pacific, along with the movie Flat Top (1952) and Away All Boats (1956) with Jeff Chandler. While later on, Midway (1976) and The Gallant Hours (1960), starring James Cagney, as Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey (1882-1959) would deal with larger more strategic aspects of the Pacific naval battles. Earlier, Cagney would be portrayed in a less flattering light, as an impossible and demanding Captain in the Pacific war comic/drama Mister Roberts (1955) with Henry Fonda and Jack Lemmon. Action in the Pacific continued with our first hit and run attack in the Pacific in Gung Ho (1943) with the strike on Makin Island with Carlson’s Raiders featuring Randolph Scott as the fictitious Colonel Thorwald, and the complete omission of Lt. Colonel James Roosevelt (the President’s son) who was second in command. Fox’s Guadalcanal Diary (1943) with Lloyd Nolan, which was based on the award-winning book by Richard Tregaskis, brought the horror of jungle warfare to American viewers. Later The Thin Red Line (1964, and again in 1998) and Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead (1958) with Also Ray would re-visit Guadalcanal again. Pride of the Marines (1945) released by Warner Brother’s, reinforced that view in the story of young Marine Al Schmid, and played by John Garfield, who lost his sight on Guadalcanal. After the war The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), with John Wayne would trace Marine combat, in the Pacific, up and through bloody Iwo Jima. Recently Windtalkers (2002) with Nicholas Cage would explore the role Native Americans (Navajos) would play as Navajo language code transmitters for the Marines.


Aside from the Pacific, smaller areas of conflict were not ignored. Even little Norway was covered in the Moon is Down (1943), The Edge of Darkness (1943) and the later The Heroes of Telemark (1965) where Kirk Douglas disposes of “heavy water” destined for German A-Bomb developmental facilities. The Dutch underground was featured in Soldier of Orange (1977) as young men dealt with the Nazi occupation.

Czech underground activities surrounding the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Reich Governor of Moravia and Bohemia, were addressed in the United Artist release Hangmen Also Die, (1943) with Brian Donlevy and Walter Brennan. The great Guns of Navarone (1971) from the Alistair MacLean novel with Gregory Peck, David Niven, and Anthony Quinn, along with Harrison Ford in the exciting Force 10 From Navarone (1978) explored covert combined efforts in secondary theaters of Greece and Yugoslavia.


American filmmakers attempted to democratize many of the American combat outfits of World War II. They did not speculate or analyze about many of the racial implications and realities of our society that created the make-up of our forces. During the better part of our involvement in WWII, African-American troops were used strictly in service roles as documented in the film about trucks transporting supplies across Europe in Red Ball Express (1952). In the Navy, they were servants, porters and workers on the docks, and it wasn’t until later in the War where they were used in actual combat units. Off Okinawa and Iwo Jima many anti-aircraft gun positions were assigned to “Black” troops. On the heroic aircraft carrier Intrepid (CV-11–Essex Class, 27,000 tons, launched 1943), a gun battery of 60 men, all black, kept firing right up until a suicide plane crashed into their position killing most of them. The Marine Corps became integrated in the later battles of the war. Black troops fought in Italy in segregated units commanded by white officers. Not many films dealt with prejudice, but Home of the Brave (1949) did. Originally it was supposedly to deal with anti-Semitism amongst a small group of soldiers stranded on a small island, but a black soldier, played by James Edwards, who was later seen as General Patton’s valet Sergeant in Patton (1970) was substituted.


The controversial issue of Japanese internment in World War II was a bit ameliorated by the film Go For Broke (1951), starring Van Johnson that told the story of the highly decorated 442nd Japanese-American Regimental Combat Team in Italy. Later on, there would be a television production of The Tuskegee Airmen (1995) with Lawrence Fishburne, which related the struggle regarding the creation of the African-American 332nd Fighter Group of the Army Air Force. This air group fought with valor, distinction and skill over the skies of Italy and Europe and never lost a bomber it was screening.


Again almost nothing was left out. Convoys in the North Atlantic were featured in Action in the North Atlantic (1943) with Raymond Massey and Humphrey Bogart (he served on the SS Leviathan in WWI in the Navy and it was said his lisp came from a splinter from an explosion) and The Cruel Sea (1953) with Jack Hawkins. Later Bogart would play a worn down career Naval officer in the Caine Mutiny (1954), who breaks down while in command of his destroyer-minesweeper, the Caine. Action in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean could be seen vividly in Sink the Bismarck, (1960) Pursuit of the Graf Spee (1956), and In Which We Serve, (1942) with Noel Coward, as the Captain of the HMS Torrin (in real life the ship was the Glowworm and he was playing the then Captain Louis Mountbatten, later Lord Mountbatten uncle of Philip, husband of the Queen and the Duke of Edinborough.)

The war in the Atlantic was much different than the Pacific. After the scuttling of the Pocket Battleship Graf Spee off of Montevideo, and the sinking of the HMS Hood and the German battleship Bismarck, action turned to the cat and mouse game of convoys versus the submarine.


The German Kreigsmarine in the film The Enemy Below (1957), with Curt Jurgens turned to the U-Boat in its attempt to strangle Britain with a submarine blockade. For their effort the German Navy lost over 900 U-Boats. There were some movies made about this phase of the war, including the remarkable German produced Das Boot (1981), but generally convoys were not glamorous enough for Hollywood. In retrospect, the long-boring and monotonous war in the North Atlantic, which entailed ships in large convoys, carrying troops to England with goods for both Britain and Russia, which were protected by countless destroyers, blimps and jeep or escort carriers were not interesting to the public. The ships were crowded, sanitation was terrible and they ran silent and blacked out. Most men were seasick and anxious to get to Britain as quickly as possible without being sunk. They were a bit romanticized, if that were possible in Convoy (1940) and Atlantic Convoy (1941).   


Prisoner of war life was covered with the award-winning Billy Wilder film Stalag 17, (1953) with William Holden. The Great Escape (1963) with Steve McQueen, The Colditz Story (1955), The Empire and the Sun (1987), Von Ryan’s Express (1965), with Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard,and the great award-winning David Lean film The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), with Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins and William Holden.


 The air war over Britain and Germany produced some excellent films starting with Gregory Peck in 12’Oclock High (1949), Clark Gable in Command Decison (1948), Spencer Tracy in A Guy Called Joe (1943), The Dam Busters (1954), The Battle of Britain (1969) with Laurence Olivier playing Air Marshal Hugh Dowdling, Hope and Glory (1987) with Sarah Miles, The Memphis Belle (1990) and the award winning documentary by William Wyler, The Memphis Belle, the Making of a Bomber (1944).


With this body of incredible work over the last 60 years it would be virtually impossible for any young person to go back and see all of these films. If one were a serious student of this genre, one could pick a number of the better-rated films that would represent any or all of the combat theaters of World War II. One thing can be accurately stated; much has changed in the last 60 years regarding films on World War II. Most of the early films, that I had previously mentioned, were basically one-sided, more patriotic, more romantic and nobler in purpose. They tried to balance the needs of the audience to feel that their sons, husbands, brother, fathers, friends, and sometimes wives and daughters did not die in vain. The audience was not used to suffering and the reality of combat came as a shock to many if not most. Rarely were dead Americans shown on our newsreels or picture magazines like Life and Look. It took a few years before these magazines started to show our casualties. Also, we of course did not have television, live reporting was unheard of, and if we did, all of it would have had to go through military censorship. We did have imbedded correspondents, of a sort, like the famous Ernie Pyle, called the GI’s buddy. There were many, many others who were famous and not so famous. Also many of the early filmmakers were not privy to vital and secretive information that was closely guarded until decades after the end of the war.


Up until 1970, no one was allowed to mention the breaking of the Enigma Code. This Ultra Secret was incredibly critical to almost all of our strategic decisions in the Second World War. After a thirty-five year black out period had passed, some of the secrets were revealed to the public. In his book the Ultra Secret, author, F.W. Winterbotham, who was a senior careerist in the Air Force section of the British Secret Intelligence Service for ten years at the outbreak of WWII in 1939, tells the initial story of how German secrets and military commands and maneuvers were intercepted and read. It is in this book, long after hundreds of movies and countless books had been written on the war, where the real thinking behind the decision-making was revealed.


According to Ronald Lewin’s book,“Ultra. It saved the British at Dunkerque, beat the Luftwaffe in the skies over England, turned the tide at Alamein, destroyed the U-Boat threat, outfoxed Rommel in the desert, and kept Normandy from being a disaster… It made some Allied generals look like super-geniuses, and other like bloody fools…” Of course even Churchill and Eisenhower’s memoirs of the Second World War and their decision-making are now seen to be incomplete. As for example, the biggest problem Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, the commander of the vaunted Afrika Corps and the 10th Panzer Corps, had was his lack of oil for his armored vehicles and his artillery. In the previous months, before the critical battle of El Alamein, Rommel, an instinctive field commander, had been punishing the British 8th Army with his aggressive and seemingly unorthodox tactics. The British were reading, through Ultra, their intercepts of OKW’s (German High Command in Berlin) messages to Rommel. German Headquarters was in reality micro managing his field campaign. Therefore the British expected him to be in places he was not. He was basically not listening to instructions from OKW, but reacting to battlefield realities. Ironically those realities came from the British anticipating that he was following orders.


Of course this added to a great deal of the confusion and frustration at Bletchley Park- Room 20 where the intercepts were read and deciphered. But, conversely, Rommel needed to be supplied constantly, and in order for Rommel’s forces to meet the tankers at the right time and place of delivery, meticulous instructions had to come from the German commander in Italy, Marshall “Smiling” Albert Kesselring (1881-1960). Of course the embarkation of these ships were being constantly read by the code-breakers and the information was delivered to the RAF. In truth it wasn’t as simple as shooting ducks in a barrel. First of all, the Germans and Italians had to be deceived regarding where the information was coming from. Even though the Germans believed their codes were impenetrable, they might have started to worry about whether one of their “Enigma” machines was compromised and in Allied hands. Therefore the Allies had to make sure that these desperately needed convoys were first spotted by planes and then recognized by the ships themselves. This was a vitally important “cover” regarding the real source of information. The Allies did face a problem when there was a thick fog over the Mediterranean and the convoy was obviously shielded from snooping observation aircraft. The British did not wish to allow any convoy to get through to Tunisia, and subsequently sank the ships as they approached the African shores. Admiral Andrew Cunningham (1883-1963), the British Theater Commander made sure that a phony message about the now sunken fleet of tankers was sent to a fictitious spy in Naples.


Unfortunately Winterbotten could only write his book from memory for he was prevented from using any of the still secret files. He was allowed no access to any records or official information from Bletchley Park under the Official Secret’s Act. Four years later, in 1978, the author Richard Lewin wrote Ultra Goes to War. He was first historian to access and to utilize actual (70,000) intercepts. In Lewin’s explosive book, he reveals how the use and misuse of information helped and hurt the Allies. In some leaders it produced over-confidence. Certainly the Allies did not use it effectively at Arnhem and the German secrecy regarding their Ardennes offensive in the Bulge kept Bletchley basically in the dark. Therefore in retrospect all of the films made during the war and up until the 1970’s are victims of the Official Secret’s Act. They were left in the dark like the rest of us! With regards to the smaller, more personal films that information was not really critical.


During the war there were spy stories lake Nazi Agent, (1942) with Conrad Veidt, and Berlin Correspondent (1942), which started to reach the public. James Cagney, as a newspaper reporter in the pre-war days fought with Japanese fascists in UA’s Blood on the Sun (1945). Later after the war, Cagney would star in the OSS drama 13 Rue Madeleine (1947) and Lloyd Nolan would be feattured in the real-life spy-thriller, The House on 92nd Street (1948) about spies in NYC relaying information to Germany from a clandestine transmission station out in Long Island. Warner Brother’s Cloak and Dagger (1946) with Gary Cooper loosely dealt with OSS agents and atomic energy.


When one analyzes Band of Brothers, one must mention the films that focused on the action and campaigns that “E” Company and the 101st were involved in the Allied push across northwestern Europe from D-Day to VE Day. This elite Division was directly involved in the critical D-Day invasion, the crossing of the Rhine, the Market-Garden attack into Holland, the siege of the vital crossroad city of Bastogne, under the overall command of the famous Brig. General Anthony McAuliffe (1888-1975) and the taking of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. At the heart of this Division was its unrivaled “Easy” Company.


Darryl Zanuck’s The Longest Day (1962), with John Wayne and a cast of thousands, wrote the book on wartime recreations. On D-Day the paratroopers of “Easy” Company missed their “Drop Zone” by at least 5 miles. Many units missed their own DZ’s by up to 20 miles. Ironically “Easy” Company’s planned DZ was actually in a heavily fortified area. So as a consequence of this overshoot by their “air drop” C-47 transports, their dispersed unit was able to survive the landing, and was able to regroup, with effectiveness and accomplish their missions. Ironically because of the wholesale foul up regarding all of the paratrooper landings, the Germans were completely confused. They had no idea how big this effort was and though many paratroopers were killed or wounded, the Germans were afraid to drive towards the invasion beaches.

This hesitation enabled the Allies to have extra time in consolidating their gains on the Normandy beaches. After the Allied foothold was assured, heavy slugging remained in the effort to take Caen and though it was weeks before the Allies were able to take St. Lo, they finally broke through into France, with the Germans in almost full retreat. Frankly there are few movies focusing on this part of the campaign. In the same way the Allied landings in southern France (Anvil-Dragoon) under the command of General Alexander Patch (1889-1945) and the 7th US Army is a historically forgotten event. The actual code name of the invasion was switched from Anvil to Dragoon! (Overlord was originally The Hammer and Churchill was opposed to the effort to land in Southern France and wanted the invasion to be in the Balkans. Because he was “dragooned” in to supporting the plan, Anvil was renamed Dragoon!))  As the Allies advance on Paris, as seen in The Train (1964) with Burt Lancaster and Is Paris Burning? (1966) the story is told of the rising up of the French resistance. General Jacques Leclerc, (1902-1947) the commander of a French Division, led the Allies into Paris. The liberation of Paris, and the historic welcome of General Charles DeGaulle (1890-1970), along with the surrender of German General Dietrich von Choltitz 1894-1966) and his refusal to blow up Paris, was the critical element of Is Paris Burning?


With regards to the fight for France and the march towards Germany, Audie Murphy’s medal winning actions were featured in To Hell and Back (1955). Marlon Brando played a quixotic German soldier along with Montgomery Cliff as an American-Jewish soldier experiencing anti-Semitism in The Young Lions  (1958). Other well-known films dealing with individuals were the Dirty Dozen (1967), Attack (1956), and Battleground (1949) with Van Johnson and a unit of the 101st at Bastogne. Big Red One (1980), with Lee Marvin also dealt with a company’s experiences fighting through combat in Europe with the Army’s 1st Division. The more important big-budget films like Patton (1970) with George C. Scott in the title role, The Bridge at Remagen (1969) with George Segal and Ben Gazzara, The Battle of the Bulge (1965) with Henry Fonda, Saving Private Ryan (1998) with Tom Hanks and A Bridge to Far (1977) with Sean Connery as Major-General Roy Urquhart and a fabulous cast which included Lawrence Olivier recreated the Market-Garden Operation and the failed capture of Arnhem. These films were about the more important battles of the war in northern Europe and were covered in depth by the American film industry. Of those five last films I would give The Bridge to Far the highest marks. Also a new realism came out of the cinematography of Saving Private Ryan. A great many of those techniques were used in Band of Brothers.


Band of Brothers was a remarkable production. With 600 minutes of content one could get to know the characters and what they were all about. Each of the ten episodes opened with remarks from the original 101st Airborne “E” Company’s veterans that survived the war and were still alive almost 55 years later. They set the scene through their first hand knowledge and impressions of what was to happen.


The casting was remarkable with Damian Lewis in the lead, a Brit playing Major Winters. His understated manner, which exuded trust and confidence, was for me the high light of the series. Lt. and later Captain Nixon was a rich boy who had an excellent education, did his job well and had a world-weary streak of cynicism. He loved his scotch and made every effort to drink whenever he had an opportunity. Lt. Winters took his leadership role with the utmost of seriousness and his concern for his men at the highest level. He was most comfortable as platoon leader and a company commander. When promoted out of those positions to Battalion headquarters, he regretted leaving the hands on control of his men and the thrill of being in the action. David Schwimmer did a remarkable job as the bitter Captain Sobel. He combined an exquisite combination of dedication and the anxiety of self-doubt. The Schwimmer/ Sobel role was an essential backdrop to the first third of “E” Company’s history. Captain Sobel made “Easy” the best Company in one of the most elite Divisions in the American Army in Europe. They were tough, well prepared, and able to operate in the night better then any of their peers, and certainly better then their German foes.


As to the others, the casting of Lieutenants Welsh, Lipton and Compton was also excellent, but the NCOs, Guarnere, Malarky, Toye, Muck, and Randallman were the backbone of “Easy” Company and they were played to perfection. Lt. Winters was assigned the task of taking out four large howitzer artillery pieces that were bombarding our landing forces on Utah Beach. His tactics were textbook and the filming of their attack was remarkable. Many considered his leadership, and the action of taking out those guns as one of the outstanding small squad actions of the war. For that action he was recommended for the Medal of Honor, but received the Distinguished Service Cross, along with two of his men, who were awarded Silver Stars, with the rest being decorated with Bronze Stars. Ironically there were few other medals awarded to these men regardless of their success and actions. They were expected to be elite shock troops and the Army was said to be stingy with medals for enlisted men.


Of course nothing could really equal the attack on Brecourt Manor, but “Easy” Company goes on to further actions and adventures in the assault on Carentan on the Cotentin Peninsular. As this sector was first pacified and occupied, “Easy” Company’s efforts from June 7 to July 12, 1944 ended their time in France. They had jumped into France on June 6 with 139 officers and men. They were pulled out of the line on June 29 with 74 officers and men present for duty. The 506th Regiment had taken the highest casualties of any regiment in the campaign, about 50%.



“From this day to the ending of the World,

…we in it shall be remembered

…we band of brothers.”


Henry V

William Shakespeare



Each episode had its action, poignancy and pathos. Of course the main thrust of Band of Brothers was the story of the evolution of a group of young citizen soldiers who volunteered to be molded into a new type of elite fighting group; the “paratroopers.” With regards to “Easy” Company they were from all over America and were a blend of farmers, coal miners, some from the deep South, some desperately poor and others from the middle class. A few came from the Ivy League, and there were two from UCLA. There was only one from the regular Army and some were some from the Reserves and the National Guard.


As these young citizen volunteers evolve first into men, and then into soldiers and eventually into an elite group of fighters, they go through a difficult, demanding and winnowing out process. One can readily appreciate not only the physical demands of training, but also the process that starts to bond these men together as a cohesive unit. As the men experience this demanding regimen of night marches, incredible hikes with full packs, and work without end or rest, organized by Captain Sobel, one starts to see how the men start to resent his leadership. Though they appreciate the vigorous training and conditioning, they see Sobel as some type of unfeeling tyrant that in whom have little confidence. Eventually we see Lt. Winters emerge as the counterpoint to Sobel. He, of course, finally rebels against Sobel’s vindictive use of “Mickey Mouse” style harassment, and when Sobel foolishly thinks that he can threaten Winters with a court martial, Winters does not cave in, but demands his “day in court.”


Eventually Sobel departs from the scene and new leadership comes to “Easy” Company. As their training ends, and the invasion of France looms in the near future, the 101st  gears for action. Eventually all the training pays off, and the men prepare for their eventual “baptism under fire.” The flight in the C-47 cargo planes over occupied France and beyond the beaches of Normandy is unnerving and harrowing as the men fight fear and airsickness. Flying through lethal anti-aircraft fire, and in the path and mayhem of streaking yellow tracer bullets the paratroopers bail out from between 500 and 1000 feet above the French countryside. The audience is taken for a bumpy frightening ride into the teeth of the unknown. As the men land, in the darkness before dawn, they are scattered all over the landscape, and far from their originally planned DZ. Lt. Winters and the others eventually match up, find some of their lost equipment, locate their planned objectives, and go about familiarizing themselves with this dark and daunting alien countryside. One can easily feel the anxiety welling up in each of the men as they face the unknown of being behind enemy lines, and knowing that they may be overwhelmed long before there is any “breakout” and link-up with “friendly” forces from beaches of Normandy.


Lt. Winters and a small squad of men are ordered to attack a four-gun battery of German 105mm cannons that are near a large French farmhouse called Brecourt Manor. This battery was shelling the troops landing on Utah Beach. Winters with his small squad take on the 4 guns despite the presence of a 50-man support group of German infantry. His tactics are classic, the guns are taken, spiked and the action is remarkably exciting. Because of this engagement Lt. Winters is recommended for the Medal of Honor, but since only one man per division was given that medal in the whole Normandy campaign, Winters received his DSC. But the filming, sound and special affects rivaled all that was seen in Saving Private Ryan. This type of action used to be limited to only big screen productions, but it was captured brilliantly by HBO’s production.


Of course there would be much more action for the 101st as they were called upon to fly over and parachute into Holland as an advance part of the massive Allied operation known as Market-Garden, or the attempt to take Arnhem and the last bridge of a number of crossings that could lead into the heart of Germany. Of course the totality and utter futility of this battle could have been seen in the film, A Bridge to Far. “Easy” Company distinguishes itself quite well, but their British, Polish Allies and their American compatriots in arms take a severe beating. “Easy” Company goes from being welcomed by the Dutch with open arms, after years of occupation, and then being counter-attacked by a heavy concentration of German armor and infantry. As Allied Forces would push German troops closer to the Fatherland, the German supply lines would be shorter and their ability to bring up reserves and heavily armored units would be easier. Conversely the Allies would be strung out further, and their possibility of being enveloped would be much greater.


In this harrowing episode the specter of defeat is quite real and the 101st Division and “Easy” Company’s training and bonds of friendship comes through and serves them well. As the British XXX Corps and the Guards Armored Division retreat from their failed assault of the Dutch bridges, a general retreat is called for all Allied Forces. The effort by Sergeants Malarkey, Guarnere, and Toye to rescue Lt. Compton and the survival of Sgt. Randleman, who’s position was overrun by German tanks and infantry, really tested “Easy” Company as they retreated in the wake of the failure of the Market-Garden offensive. History showed the Market-Garden initiative failed, because too much offensive (troops and armor) was poured into to narrow a front. In other words the narrow front acted like a bottleneck, and not enough troops could easily flow into the action. “Easy” Company was one of 150 or so companies that were hurt badly by the over confidence of their leaders regarding this operation in Holland. The difficulty of supplying several divisions of British, American and Polish troops through one highway reflected terrible staff planning and disastrous execution.


But the message of Band of Brothers was again that great training and high regard for each other’s safety and well-being would increase survival under the most trying of circumstances.


Again and again the 101st Airborne was called on for the tough assignments. General Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander, who was under great pressure to halt the German Ardennes offensive in the Bulge, threw both the 101st and the 82nd Airborne Divisions into the important crossroad town of Bastogne, Belgium. It was here that German offensive met a critical challenge. They needed to get beyond Bastogne to be able to advance on and to the Port of Antwerp. “Easy” Company’s great stand, during the teeth of a blizzard that dropped 12” of snow on December 21st that sent temperatures plummeting below zero, along with a constant attack by German armor, made them famous. The scenes in Band of Brother were very reminiscent of Battleground (1949) with Van Johnson and James Whitmore. History does note that when the commander of the surrounding German soldiers, sent a message to General McAuliffe’s HQ, requesting the surrender of the American Forces or their total annihilation, McAuliffe replied with his famous answer “Nuts!” (Of course this is the “sanitized” version of McAuliffe’s remarks.)


Bastogne was eventually relieved, as skies cleared and needed supplies of food and ammunition were dropped, and the 3rd Army, under Lt. General George S. Patton (1885-1945) broke the siege and encirclement by the German forces. As the US Army and the 101st Airborne regained the offensive, “Easy” Company was then called upon to take Foy a small town west of Bastogne. At Foy, the attack directed by the now Captain Winters, was held up by Lt. Dikes’s indecisiveness in the midst of the battle. In the middle of the attack, Captain Winters replaced Dike with Lt. Spears, the attack proceeded, and Foy fell. Again the production reflected the realism of battle and the courage and fortitude of “Easy” Company.


Each episode reflected a different and meaningful perspective on “Easy” Company and its contribution to the war effort. This company, no less the 101st Airborne did not win the war in Europe its own, but the coverage of its experiences was critical to any interested observer’s understanding of what “real” fighting units went through.


When “Easy” Company moved into the line at Haguenau, a city of 20,000, which was a large urban area for them, they were astride the Moder River that was a tributary of the Rhine. Eventually with the arrival from the United States of a newly graduated replacement from the West Point Class of 1944, one 2nd Lt. Hank Jones, an effort was made to cross the Moder and get prisoners. Again “Easy” Company, with many of its original soldiers, from the days when they dropped behind Utah Beach, wounded, replaced, or killed, was up for the task. Jones eagerly volunteered to be part of the night crossing and he, though terribly green and inexperienced, performed quite well. Of course after the successful operation was completed, with Lt. Jones doing his part, while allowing the more experienced NCO’s to direct the action, he was quickly promoted to 1st Lt. and transferred to a staff job at regiment. All the men knew that that Jones was a member of the WPPA, the West Point Protective Association known by the ring they all wore. Knowing that the conclusion of the war was not far in the future, it was rumored that the army was not going to put its young West Point graduates in harm’s way. It would be those men who would staff and lead the peacetime army. (Unfortunately Lt. Jones was later killed when his jeep hit a mine.)


“Easy” Company would eventually become occupiers in Germany, interact with the German civilian population and deal with the problem of fraternization with the opposite sex. Eventually as they moved through Germany, while brushing aside some fanatical pockets of SS troops, the came upon their first concentration camp near Landsberg. It was a work camp, part of the Dachau complex, not an exetermination camp, but the horrors they saw startled and shocked them. General Maxwell Taylor, so incensed by what he learned and saw, declared martial law and ordered all of the citizenry of Landsberg from age fourteen to eighty to be rounded up and sent to the camp to bury the dead and clean up the camp. Winters, along with all of the men quickly learned “why they were there!” There were a few films other than Shindler’s List (1993) and the made for television drama Holocaust (1978) that showed the horror of the concentration camps in graphic detail.


Eventually, as the war came to an end, “Easy” Company captured Berchtesgaden and Hitler’s Eagle’s nest.  They became part of the occupation army and the problems inherent in that task. As they killed time, longing to go home, and possibly awaiting assignment to the Pacific, more problems ensued. They dealt with them as best as possible and slowly but surely some of them departed for the states.


While relaxing and “killing time” in the beautiful Austrian countryside, peace came with the large “bangs” from the Atomic Bombs, and the war ended sending most of them back to civilian life.


All in all, their story was remarkable, and the coverage from their early days in 1942 where they were raw recruits ended with them returning as legendary heroes. No novel could have said it so poignantly or as well.


After a lifetime of reading books and seeing films, documentaries and dramatizations on WWII like; Holocaust (1978) Herman Wouk’s Winds of War (1983) and War and Remembrance (1988) I feel comfortable in my view that Band of Brothers was the best that has been produced. Band of Brothers certainly was not on the scale of the Wouk productions. They were each 883 minutes and 1620 minutes long. They covered the whole scope of history from the perspective of one fictional family and its lives and loves, with a backdrop on the whole scope of the war from the Blitz, to Pearl Harbor, to Russia to the Sahara, to Berlin and finally to the liberation of Auschwitz. No matter what one would think of the casting, or miscasting, or the story line regarding Captain “Pug” Henry, one can never take the importance of those efforts from their historical place in film greatness.


But Band of Brothers is a real story about real men. There is no backdrop regarding the melodrama of their lives. The melodrama is their lives in combat, told in their own words and voices. There was no cover-up, no romanticizing, and no embellishment. It allows us to experience the story of their evolution from raw recruits to heroic men of action. It enabled us to understand the sacrifice of “real” men, not fictitious ones created by some novelist or scriptwriter. It brought into our homes the real sacrifices of a generation that helped save the world from enslavement and darkness.