Mount Vernon, Henry Littlefield and Myself -August 25, 2006


Mount Vernon, Henry Littlefield and Myself


Letter to Mal Gissen


Richard J. Garfunkel

August 25, 2006



Thanks, and great to hear from you after all these years. Remember Henry was only 9 years older than you were and he was really from a different world. I think that it took him a few more years to really adjust to MV. He had gone to Trinity Prep, knew and taught Jimmy Brown how to wrestle in the Manhasset, LI YMCA, got his BA and MA at Columbia and became a ROTC officer in the Marine Corps. Mrs. L. went to Wheaton and was from Smithtown. I believe that when the Littlefield's came to MV they were in culture shock with the Jews, Italians and Blacks. For sure it was the Jews that shocked them the most. Henry was used to the city Jew and not a confident suburban somewhat smart ass Jew. As open-minded and progressive as they eventually became, they were not ready for MV. I got to know them quite well and though they knew Jews were smart, they never realized how able they were to conduct their affairs in an assimilated world, of which MV was. All in all, in the years after you left he came into his own as giant among men.


Regarding my relationship with Henry, I was much more of a roughhouse type and after a rough year at Horace Mann I was a bit more dysfunctional. I related to Henry quite quickly as a friend and outsider. To a degree I was always an “outsider.” In the fall of 1961, after Vinnie Olson cut me from the BB team. (He regretted it later and told me, and Gene Ridenour the new coach the next year, in 1962-3, was my gym teacher and saw me play each day in phys-ed. He asked me to play on the varsity. I told him that I didn't want to sit as a senior, and I had tossed in my hat with HML and totally committed to what he wanted. Gene and I remained friends for many, many years after that!)


Meanwhile the year before, and right after being cut, I wandered around a bit and even though I had never met HML I decided it was time. Tony Taddey, who was a neighbor and a year younger, had joined the football team and raved about Henry. So I went up to him, told I knew Gus Petersen, the famous trainer, former star wrestler from the turn of the century and long-time coach at Columbia U, at Horace Mann and we clicked. On a long 3-hour bus ride to Cheshire Academy, in the fall of 1961, we talked about history (WWII), a common interest for both of us and we became quite close. Over the years I always worked for him and had the pleasure of running the NY State Section I Wrestling Tournament held in MV for three years in a row 1964-5-6. I came in from college for the event and did all of the coordinating. I wound up being his closest friend and acquaintance from MV. We exchanged 5000 letter, post cards, and e-mails from 1963 until his death in 2000. Randy Forrest and I went to his funeral in Monterrey, which was attended by over 1000 people! 


Aside from all of that, one late afternoon Bobby Danetz, who was my neighbor, and I were walking home after a wrestling meet. Bobby had been pinned by some opponent. Bobby was quite strong, but he did not have a real killer instinct. He was too nice a guy and there were some real studs out there in the light heavyweight and heavy weight divisions (175 and Hvy). He just couldn't cut it with finesse. As we walking up Prospect he slipped on the ice and fell right on his back with all his books and gear. I jumped right on top of him and said now you've been pinned twice. I did not see Bobby for many years after that until I attended a funeral for one of Jimmy Cotton's parents. My parents were quite friendly with the Cottons and were in Florida I suppose. So I went as an obligation. Bobby was there, and he had not changed an iota. Still soft spoken, still nice, and still very decent! Later on he showed up at our 40th reunion and we shared a few laughs and memories.



Jon Breen – His Life and the Fund -August 25, 2006


Jon Breen – his Life and the Fund


Richard J. Garfunkel

August 25, 2006


I've spent a lot of time in Mount Vernon over the past number of years. In 1993 at the time of our 30th HS reunion, of which I was the chairperson, an old friend named Jon Breen showed up. Jon Breen and his young brother Scotty were the sons of a well-known physician, Steven Breen who had his practice and home on Sidney, between Columbus and Darling. His mother died of a stroke at age 42 I believe. She was a strange gal of sorts who had a huge head of platinum blond hair. Dr. Breen later died at the age of 59 or so. Jon and I had met in the 4th grade in the new Holmes School. He was friendly with three others, Bob Liscio, who eventually went to Fordham Prep and disappeared from view, Bill Bendlin, who went to Concordia Prep, and Charles Columbus, whose older brothers Jay and Richie grew up in MV, went to school there and graduated college from Michigan State and Ohio State respectively. I became friendly with Charles and a fellow named Warren Adis. My parents got to know the Columbuses and Richie, of the Class of 1955, had more then a passing interest in my sister Kaaren, the Class of 1959. Eventually the Breens moved across town and Jon went to Nichols, but we stayed connected through the “Y” and other social avenues. My parents went to Europe for 18 weeks in 1957-8 and I stayed with the Columbus family for that period of time. Richie Columbus, who had a Casanova type reputation, to say the least, was engaged to a go-getter gal at OSU. But he invited my sister out to Columbus, Ohio when she was about 16 to see the school. Of course he had other things on his mind, but that is another story. My sister, who was and is very sophisticated told me all about him in later years. After that incident he and I never really got along. But all that is water way over the dam.


In the interim Jon Breen and I re-kindled our friendship in high school and stayed friendly during his years at Dartmouth. He was a volatile sort and I wasn't a particular wilting wall flower. He was easy to rile up and I had a great time teasing him over the conservative reputation of Dartmouth College. When I got married in 1969 and traveled to Boston on a short trip back to BU's homecoming, we met up with Jon and his girlfriend who became his future wife Ronne. After that evening I never saw Jon Breen again until the evening of our 30th reunion in 1993. We had a great time, but to make a long story short, he was dead of a massive heart attack within 5-6 months. As the reunion head, I donated the money to MVHS in his name and started the Jon Breen Fund (see latter below).


Therefore over the years I re-familiarized myself with Mount Vernon and all the dynamics that made it tick. I eventually wrote a lecture, that I gave at the high school, about the affect of the Brown v. the Topeka Board of Ed. decision on my life growing up in MV. I posted it on the Class of 1956 website. Unlike the other medium-sized cities in Westchester; White Plains and New Rochelle, the City of Mount Vernon made colossal errors regarding commerce, education and race. Ironically Mount Vernon, which had the image of toleration and theoretical assimilation wound up being a victim of its own hubris. The world we grew up in was quite unique, especially for Jews and Italians who were the last European immigrant groups that sought acceptance in Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominated America. Both groups brought a great deal of “baggage” with them to America. The Italians suffered from an inferiority complex of not knowing the language, being an artisan group that did not value education or professionalism and were our enemies during WWII. The image of Mussolini, who most Italians adored in the 1930's, became that of the strutting, pompous clown, portrayed and parodied by Jack Oakie in Chaplin's masterpiece, the Great Dictator, and in all too real life, the junior Fascist partner of the Axis.


The Jews who immigrated to Mount Vernon from NYC, the Bronx and Germany in late 1930's suffered from the age old ravages of anti-Semitism. Most groups and other ethnic minorities lived in self-contained ghettoes in the cities, and the youngsters from those groups congregated in their own hangouts and even their own sections of both the ocean beaches and the mountain bungalow colonies. Only in Mount Vernon, where Jews could buy property, and were not bound by restricted covenants in property deeds, could they really breathe the free open air of the suburbs and live in integrated neighborhoods determined by a meritocracy and not a red line. I believe that this existence was quite unique to Mount Vernon.


As turbulent social dynamic demands came in the late 1960's that unique world started to change and change quickly. In a short period of time, the lines of opposition which had been drawn over the effort to build a new unified high school, fractured the alliances amongst the races and the religious groups. The Liberal Jews sided with the blacks against the Italians and the conservative Jews. When times got tough the Jews who had supported integration and busing saw the Blacks turn on them. The Jews, as in many periods of their history, voted with their feet, and the white flight began with the momentum of an avalanche. The Italians never forgave the Jews for first fighting for the new high school, then supporting busing and then abandoning the city. The rest is history. In a short period of time the city changed forever with no hope of a revival to its glorious past. There is a sense of great nostalgia for Mount Vernon amongst almost all of the citizens that lived there from the 1930's through the middle 1960's. It is a longing for the unique and open life of neighborhood and community that existed almost nowhere else. It has now disappeared and has been re-born in the new world of suburban divisions between upper middle class and lower middle class.



March 31, 2001


The Honorable Ernest Davis

Mayor of Mount Vernon,

City Hall

Mount Vernon, N.Y.



Dear Mayor Davis,


I hope that this letter finds you and yours quite well. I wanted to thank you for taking the time to speak to me this morning at the Memorial Field Tennis Facility. Knowing the dynamics and pressures of public life, I appreciate your thoughtfulness regarding my subject matter.


We had originally met through the good offices of my long time friend Randy Forrest, whom I have known for 40 years. I have worked with Randy on many projects starting with scholastic wrestling in the early 1960’s, up to his work with the Frederick Douglass Institute in New Rochelle. In fact, Randy and I flew to San Francisco together, just a year ago this week, for the memorial service of the former great Mount Vernon High School coach Henry M. Littlefield.


Over the last eight years, I have directed the effort to raise funds for the Jon Breen Memorial Fund, which uses these funds to sponsor a public policy essay contest every year. The late Jon Breen, a 1963 Mount Vernon High School graduate (president of his class), a Dartmouth College alum, a Harvard Law School graduate and a Fulbright Scholar, had a great fondness for Mount Vernon, was an award-winning essayist, and was a public-policy thinker. Through these eight years I have raised over $20,000, have read and judged over 200 essays yearly, and have awarded thousands of dollars to the winners. With the help of the last three Social Studies coordinators at Mount Vernon High School, L.E. Smith, John Alberga and Paul Court, I have been able to accomplish this important effort.


Last year, with the untimely death of Henry Littlefield, I was able to start an annual history award to be given in his name. With Mr. Court’s able assistance, I was able to select Robert McNair (Cornell, ’04) as the year 2000’s honoree. This year, as in the past, we have chosen a subject that has recent historical and political relevance, the Electoral College. Please find, along with this letter, copies of last year’s Jon Breen Fund letters, and one of the contest flyers from 1999.


Over this period of time, I have had the pleasure of being invited to speak in Advanced Placement and Honors classes on 20th Century historical topics. One of these topics has been the life and times of Franklin D. Roosevelt. As part of my lecture, I bring along artifacts and collectibles reflective of his life, public career and the events that made him famous.


Your idea of convening a panel discussion, in front of an assembly, on this very important topic and having this event and the awardees also honored on local cable television is greatly appreciated. I believe it will bring added recognition and needed exposure to the project. I look forward to helping you accomplish this goal with any and all efforts I can contribute.





Richard J. Garfunkel




The AB Davis Flying Fortress – August 25, 2006

The AB Davis Flying Fortress

August 25, 2006


Richard J. Garfunkel



The letter below is from my friend, Paul Court, a Mount Vernon alum, who is currently the Social Studies/History Lead Teacher at Mount Vernon H.S. He is the advisor to the Jon Breen Fund and for a number of years now he and I have worked closely on the Jon Breen Essay Contest and the Henry M. Littlefield Memorial History Award. I had sent him the piece below from the AB Davis Class of 1956 website, which was written by Linda (Young) Shapiro. I had inadvertently identified the AB Davis as a B-24 (known also as the Flying Box Car and the Flying Coffin). He supplied the pertinent remarks regarding the name AB Davis and our warplanes in the letter directly below my piece on the B-17 and Robert Rosenthal.


The Flying Fortress AB Davis was a B-17E. There were 12,731 Flying Fortress manufactured between 1935-45. Boeing built 6981, Douglas built 3000 and Vega (Lockheed) built 2700. 4750 were lost in combat. The Fortress carried a crew of 10 and had 8 .50 caliber machine guns along with one .30 machinegun. The B-17E had a wingspan of 103' 9.4” and its length was 73' 9.73″.  The earlier models were approximately 67 feet long and the later models E, F, G; H had a rear gun turret. The B-17E had 4 Wright Engines, and a gross weight of 40,260 lbs. Its top speed was 318 MPH and it usually cruised at 226 MPH. It had a range of 3300 miles and a service altitude of 35,000 ft. There were 512 B-17E's built.


I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Major Robert Rosenthal, of Harrison, NY, one of the heroes featured in Edward Jablonski's (1923-2004) seminal history of the B-17,  “Flying Fortress”, published in 1965 by Doubleday. Major Rosenthal, the winner of the DSC (extraordinary heroism), the Silver Star (with cluster for gallantry in action), the Purple Heart (with cluster), the Air Medal (with seven clusters) and the DFC (with cluster for extra ordinary achievement in flight) amongst his 16 other decorations, along with a Presidential Unit Citation for his Squadron, The Bloody 100th,” is today 89 years old. He graduated from Brooklyn Law School, entered into the US Army Air Force in 1941and rose to fame as the pilot of Rosie's Riveters and the Royal Flush. His bomber group carried the first American airmen to bomb Berlin.


“Thirteen planes from the 100th Group took off for Munster (Germany); only one, Rosie Riveters, returned.” and “except for Rosie's Riveters, not one of the 100th planes had succeeded in reaching the target. They were attacked just as the formations were approaching the IP, just when the P-47s (fighter escort) had to turn around (lack of adequate range). Without fighter escort the Fortresses were now open to attack.” As they proceeded into Germany, “Over Munster Rosenthal completed his bomb run; his two engines (out of four) were already out, both waist gunners were wounded, one seriously. The interphones were out and the oxygen system was shot up; a rocket had gone through the right wing, ripping a large ragged hole in the skin. The flak was heavy as the plane dropped its bombs.”


“In his diary, tail gunner William J. DeBlasio summarized the depleted emotions of his crew; by the grace of G-d we were the only ship to come back, our pilot brought us home safely.” (From the “Flying Fortress” by Edward Jablonski)


He along with Paul Tibbits, the legendary commander of the 509th Air Squadron and pilot of the Enola Gay were considered amongst the greatest pilots produced by our Air Force during the Second World War. 


Richard J. Garfunkel



—–Original Message—–
From: []
Sent: Monday, March 13, 2006 7:24 PM
Subject: Re: The Mount Vernon Library and the B-24 Bomber The AB Davis

There were several warplanes purchased by the students and citizens of Mt. Vernon. I have seen a photo of a Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress with the name “Purchased by students of A.B.Davis” painted on the rear fuselage. The date would have to be 1943 or early 1944. I also received a copy of the Boeing B-29 Super Fortress and her crew also dedicated to A.B.Davis High School (in recognition to the outstanding success of their war bond sales drive). The photo was from the late war effort…. perhaps even Korea! US Air Force markings changed in 1947 and a black night bombing scheme was used in Korea on the undersides of these bombers. My guess is 1950-1952. I heard about a Grumman Hellcat fighter, which was delivered to the school and parked near the flagpole parking area as a token of the school's war bond sales success. It was reputedly stripped for souvenirs and was eventually taken away sometime later. Interesting tale but I haven't got too much information on this tale. I never heard of a Consolidated B-24 Bomber being named after AB Davis…that's a new one on me. Did you know that an AB Davis graduate was an original member of the Eagle Squadron (Yanks flying for Britain BEFORE pearl Harbor), he was later shot down and listed as KIA while flying with the USAAF in 1943 or 1944. He's on the roll of honor.


Paul Court
[Richard J. Garfunkel] 



The Death of Joe Rosenthal and the Flag Raising on Mount Suribachi 8-21-06

The Death of Joe Rosenthal and the Flag Raising on Mount Suribachi


Richard J. Garfunkel

August 21, 2006



Joe Rosenthal, a wartime photographer for the Associated Press, who was one of the last survivors of the Battle of Iwo Jima, died yesterday on August 20th, 2006. He was 94 years old. Rosenthal, who at age 33, had been rejected by the Armed Forces because of his poor eyesight, volunteered to be a combat photographer. He had covered many of the ferocious battles of the War in the Pacific, and took many memorable combat photos in the campaigns from Guadalcanal to New Guinean and through Iwo Jima. The following is the story of his most memorable one, and the one that inspired the Marine Corps Monument in Washington.


On February 23, 1945, the adjutant of the Second Battalion, 28th Regiment, Fifth Marine Division, Lt. G. Greeley Wells, carried the first flag, which was relatively small, only measuring 54” by 28” that was raised on Mount Suribachi, the 545-foot high extinct volcano that dominated the skyline of Iwo Jima. When his unit was activated at Camp Pendleton, California, the commanding officer had his staff explain their jobs to the officers of the battalion. Lt. Wells’ duty was to “Carry the flag.”  When his battalion hit the beaches of Iwo Jima, he procured a flag from their transport USS Missoula and put it in his map case. (Iwo Jima, one of the last major battles fought in World War II, was fought between February 16th and March 26th of 1945.)


When the marine assault reached the top of Suribachi, he gave the flag to Lt. Harold G. Schrier. When the marines secured the top of that ghastly mountain, Louis Lowery, the Marine Corps photographer took a number of pictures of all the men on the crest with the newly hoisted flag. Hundreds of ships in the fleet that observed the flag saluted it with salvoes, as did excited marines all over the island. Of course this was the first foreign flag in four thousand years to ever fly over Japanese territorial soil.


Secretary of Navy, James V Forrestal, (1882-1949, Secretary of the Navy 1944-7) who was with the fleet, was at that time, landing with the Marine Commander, General Howland “Howlin’ Mad” Smith (1882-1967, called the father of the modern amphibious warfare). As they were landing, the flag went up, was spotted immediately from the beach and the mood amongst the high command turned to unmitigated excitement and joy. Not long after the flag-raising Forrestal sent word to division headquarters to relay to the flag-raisers that he wanted the flag. Forrestal remarked also to General Smith: “Holland, the raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.” 


The 2nd Battalion commander, Colonel Chandler W. Johnson, whose temperament was as fiery as the legendary Smith’s, said that the original flag was for the men of our battalion and ordered Lt. Wells to get another flag to replace the first flag. Wells said he sent his company runner, Rene Gagnon, (later to be a flag raiser) to the beach to get a flag from one of the many crafts that were wrecked and littered along the beach. Interestingly, Col. Johnson later recalled that he had sent Lt. Ted Tuttle to the same beach to get the replacement flag. Johnson called after Tuttle and said, “And make it a bigger one.” While Lt. Tuttle was looking for a replacement flag, Gagnon, who had also been sent to the beach, reached Colonel Johnson’s command position. Tuttle took a large 96” by 56” American flag to the Colonel that he had obtained from LST-779. This flag had been found in a salvage yard at Pearl Harbor and had been rescued from a sinking ship on December 7th. He handed it to the Colonel, who in turn gave it to Gagnon. He told Gagnon, and others with him “You tell (Lt.) Schrier to put this flag up, and I want him to save the small flag for me.”


By the time Gagnon got back to the top, Joe Rosenthal, the Associated Press photographer, had arrived. A long pole was found, and because it was long and heavy it took quite a few men to hoist it to the site of where the first flag was planted.


Ironically, when Rosenthal had disembarked from the command ship, he had slipped on a wet ladder and had landed in the ocean between that ship and a landing craft. He had to be fished from the water. He was lucky his bulky, but durable 35mm Speed Graphic was in a waterproof bag. After he landed he was able to get a few shots of Smith and Forrestal disembarking from their landing craft. He and another reporter had heard that the Marines were approaching the top of Suribachi. Along with Rosenthal, was Bill Hipper, a magazine correspondent, and combat photographers Private Bob Campbell, who worked with a still camera and Sergeant Bill Genaust, who had a movie camera loaded with color film.


As their party started to work their way up to the mountain, Gagnon had reached the summit and had given the larger flag to Lt. Schrier. The accompanying sergeant told the Lieutenant “Colonel Johnson wants this flag run up high so every son of a bitch on this whole cruddy island can see it.” Rosenthal, at about the same time, met Sgt. Lou Lowery who was descending from the crater at the top of the extinct volcano that was Suribachi.  Lowery said that he had already taken pictures of the flag raising, but that they should continue to go up because there were great views of the harbor.


As Rosenthal approached the top shortly after noon, he noticed a couple of marines hauling a long heavy iron pole.  The pole the marines were dragging was a length of drainage pipe and weighed more than a hundred pounds. As the three photographers milled around, the first flag was lowered, some photos and movies were taken, and the marines got set for the almost simultaneous raising of the second and larger flag. The Marines wanted the replacement of the smaller flag with the larger one to be seamless. Rosenthal set his camera down and piled up some stones and a sand bag to stand his short five foot five inch frame upon. His camera was set a 1/400th of a second with an f-stop between 8 and 16.


The second flag raising happened within seconds as the men, Ira Hays, Frank Sousley, John Bradley, Harlon Block, Mike Strank and Rene Gagnon carried the flag and started to plant it into the ground. As they approached Rosenthal spotted their movement, grabbed his camera, and got set. Genaust who was about three feet away asked Rosenthal if he was in his way. Rosenthal said. “Oh no,” and later said “Hey Bill, there it goes.” Everyone got what they wanted, the first flag going down and the second larger flag going up. Rosenthal wasn’t even sure that the shot would come out. After a few moments Rosenthal did what Lowery had done, he called several marines to cluster around the pole for a standard shot. Eventually 18 marines would be in this casual shot. They were laughing, waving their arms and helmets. The replacement flag raising was so casual that it was never even reported in the 2nd Battalion’s “Action Report.”


Of course the events of this day were big news back in the states. Joe Rosenthal’s film was sent back to the fleet where it was put on a mail plane headed for Guam, a thousand miles south across the Pacific. The film would eventually be sent to technicians who would develop the pictures and discard the ones that would be deemed rejects or mistakes. Eventually, the prints that they decided were worthwhile would be sent by radiophoto to the United States. By February 25th the photo was published in the States and the affect was electric. It hit newspapers all over the States. Because Rosenthal worked for the Associated Press his photo reached the States sooner than the military pictures. Because the first flag raising had been reported, and there were few pictures or any real identification of the flag raisers, there was a natural confusion over the events that surrounded both flags. In fact, the second flag raising was never really mentioned because it involved a replacement flag. Again to the marines on Iwo this event was meaningless. The original flag raising had lifted the Corps’ and the fleet’s morale, and all deemed the second event as anti-climactic.


This confusion regarding the first and second raisings of the flag would inadvertently cause a future controversy. Part of the problem was that most people thought that 4574 casualties and the raising of the flag signaled the end of the battle for Iwo Jima. In fact, it only marked really the beginning. The bloodletting and slaughter would continue for four and one half weeks more and would not end until March 26th.


When Joe Rosenthal left Iwo Jima and landed on Guam, he had, by accident, created the myth that the flag raising was “staged.” As he walked into the press headquarters he was congratulated for the flag raising shot.  He was asked whether the shot was posed? Rosenthal, thinking that they were talking about the other shots involving the group of 18 marines, said, “Sure.” At that moment Rosenthal had no idea what they were talking about. He was totally unaware of the excitement generated by his picture, and he even was unaware that any of his later photos had survived.


Of course when he saw the “shot” they were all talking about, he said that that shot was not staged, and “if he had tried to arrange that shot I would have ruined it.” He was still unaware of the importance of the “shot” and was for sure did not conceive that his idle remark would cause such future controversy. Unfortunately, many of the correspondents who had overheard Rosenthal’s remarks, claimed that he had said that the picture was staged. This would haunt Rosenthal for the rest of his life. The first flag raising photos taken by Lou Lowery, and delayed in transmission were basically ignored. The other photos by Rosenthal’s colleagues, who stood on the crest of Suribachi, were also ignored.


Also, this slur about the “reality” of the photo was repeated and embellished by some of the rival photographers, who felt their work had been eclipsed by this photo. So it was a mixed blessing for Rosenthal, who was eventually honored with the Pulitzer Prize for his effort. On one hand he became famous for being in the right place at the right time, but on the other hand, he became the focus of this ongoing 60-year myth regarding the photos spontaneity. Ironically Bill Genaust, who took the color movies of the flag raising, was killed three days after the event. When his camera discovered and eventually the film was processed, the true visual evidence re-affirmed Rosenthal’s version of the story.


There was much more to this battle of course. According to James Bradley, in his great book, Flag of Our Fathers, Iwo Jima took a great and savage toll on the American marines who fought there. “Of the original eighteen men photographed around the second flag raising fourteen were casualties. Of Colonel Johnson’s 2nd Battalion: 1400 boys landed on D-Day; 288 replacements were provided as the battle went on, a total of 1688. Of these, 1511 had been killed or wounded. Only 177 walked off the island. And of the 177, 91 had been wounded at least once and returned to battle.” One of the stark facts is that it took 22 crowded transports to bring the 5th Division to Iwo and the survivors fit easily into 8 as they left. The Battle of Iwo Jima incurred, for the first time in the Pacific War, more casualties on the attacking American force than on the defending Japanese. The Americans lost approximately 6800 men along with over 20,000 wounded. The Japanese lost over 20,000 men with only a few hundred captured.


Rosenthal, who left the AP in 1945, and worked for the San Francisco Chronicle for 35 years, battled the so-called controversy through out his long life. His greatest antagonist, the famous Time-Life correspondent Robert Sherrod, claimed that Marine Corps photographer Lou Lowery had told him that it was staged. Also Jack Anderson had repeated that same story. Both men eventually apologized for their mischaracterization of both Rosenthal and the event. There was also bitterness from a number of marines who were pictured in the first flag raising. They objected to the photo being called the “flag raising at Iwo Jima.” Charles Lindberg, not the flier, who was a retired electrician, and the last survivor of all the men photographed at either flag raising, always felt bitter that the first group of 18 were mostly forgotten.


On a personal note, I had the pleasure of meeting Joe Rosenthal in 1989 and getting his autograph on the accompanying picture of the “Flag Raising on Mount Suribachi.” In the best tradition of our country’s sense of volunteerism, this man, though rejected by our armed forces, still sought to contribute to our great effort, and went to the heart of the action. His contribution was not demanded but was freely offered. We are better for his and the sacrifice of uncounted others.


Letters to the Editor 8-18-06

August 18, 2006

The Journal News

Letter to the Editor:



Here we are less than three months from our next Congressional elections and we are experiencing an interesting phenomenon. On one hand, we have the Money Pit President who has spent this country into unprecedented deficits without doing anything to improve the deteriorating rolling stock of the country. With schools, bridges, roads, sewage systems, watersheds, and the power grids of the country suffering from a case of fiscal starvation, the President, like Tom Hanks continues to ask for billions for his Money Pit in Iraq. Most people are disillusioned with our effort there, not only because the justification was fabricated, but because the effort was mismanaged and fought on the “cheap.” On the other hand, we have our new version of the “Do-Nothing Congress.” This term was first used by President Truman to characterize the Republican led Senate and House during the 1948 campaign. We have a Congress that has passed tax relief for multi millionaires, while ignoring health coverage for millions, open borders, the drainage of American jobs overseas, unprecedented trade deficits, increased crime, the dissolution of the middle class, as wages decrease, scandals on Wall Street, the profligacy of corporate brigands, global warming, energy dependency on foreign suppliers, the disgrace and inadequacy of Homeland Security, the colossal failure of FEMA, and an endless and growing list of other inadequacies. When President Bush came into the White House, on his full first day in officer, he reflected on a prayer inscribed on a mantelpiece from John Adams, “… that only the wise and honest may rule under this roof.” Can we really believe that that prayer has been fulfilled?



Richard J. Garfunkel

Potsdam, The A-Bomb, and the Emergence of State Sponsored Suicide 8-9-06

Potsdam, The A-Bomb, and the Emergence of State Sponsored Suicide


Richard J. Garfunkel

August 9, 2006


Always throughout history individual soldiers and even units were willing to sacrifice their lives to hold a position. Certainly the effort of the 600 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae, in 480 BCE was a prime example of a heroic and suicidal stand against overwhelming odds. But most of these suicidal efforts were of a defensive nature. Still most soldiers fight to be able to survive, not to die. When one is faced with a foe, that is not only willing to give up his/her own life, the battle reaches a more serious level. The phrase “kill or be killed” rings very true in these types of circumstances. In fact, in combat, this mantra becomes almost universal. In a conventionally based conflict, pitting one state against another, the desire to survive the action is still paramount with most combatants and most responsible governments. In July of 1945, the Potsdam Conference attempted to answer the problem of state sponsored suicide with an explicit threat. History tells us that this threat was ignored and a more drastic and escalated response followed with swift brutal finality. 


According to the agreement at the Potsdam Conference, which was held in Cecilienhof in Potsdam, Germany from July 17th to August 2, 1945, a Declaration and warning was given to Japan, the remaining combatant from the former Axis Alliance. Of course this last great meeting of the 2nd World War brought together the leaders of the three great Allied Powers, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Unlike the previous summits, unforeseen events intervened and dramatically affected the makeup of the participants. Unlike the Yalta Conference and the Teheran Conferences, two of the major personalities who dominated the prosecution of the war were gone. Franklin D. Roosevelt * (1882-1945), who served as the nominal chairman of both the meeting in Yalta, a Russian Black Sea resort city and at Teheran, the capital of Iran, had died suddenly in Warm Springs, Georgia of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1945. Winston Churchill was defeated in a massive repudiation of the Conservative Party on July 5, 1945, though the vote was not decided until the 26th of that month, when all the overseas ballots had arrived and had been finally counted.


Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had won an unprecedented 4th term as President, was quite run-down and worn out after he had made his extensive 12,000 mile round trip to the Yalta / Crimea Conference in the former USSR and now located in the Ukraine Republic. He was suffering from advanced arteriosclerosis, an enlarged heart and various other ailments. Though he was still sharp and lucid through most of the meeting, the difficult trip had exhausted him and sapped his strength. Joseph Stalin * (1878-1953) did not wish to be out of the Soviet Union while his country’s big push into Germany was on, and therefore demanded that both FDR and Churchill travel to meet him on Soviet territory. The meeting lasted from February 2, until February 11, 1945. It was held in the Livadia Palace, and it was said that all the rooms were “bugged” by the Soviet KGB.


* Joseph Stalin- General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Union, 1922-1953, Wartime leader of the Soviet Union. Pravda Editor in 1917, Elected to the central Committee and the Politburo in 1917. After Lenin’s death in 1924 worked to consolidate power. Dictator of the Soviet Union, 1929-1953.


* Franklin D. Roosevelt- President of the United States, 1933-1945, Governor of NY, 1928-1932, nominee for the Vice-Presidency, 1920. Soldier of Freedom, author of the Four Freedoms, created of Lend-Lease, co-author of the Atlantic Charter, developer of the Arsenal of Democracy, Architect of Victory, and founder of the United Nations.



Unlike other meetings, where lesser lights like China’s Generalisimo Chiang Kai-Shek (1887-1975) and either French or Canadian representatives attended, the “Big Three” and their chosen political and military aides and staff were the only ones represented at Yalta. It was at Yalta where critical decisions were made regarding the borders of postwar Europe:


·        The priority of Germany’s defeat and the four occupation zones.

·        German demilitarization and denazification.

·        The status of Poland was discussed but not resolved.

·        The establishment of the Curzon line was demarked, which called for substantial surrender of western German land to Poland

·        Citizens of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were to be repatriated to their respective countries, regardless of their consent.

·        FDR received Stalin’s commitment to participate in the United Nations, and the five permanent member arrangements with veto power was set.

·        Stalin agreed to join the fight against Japan 90 days after the defeat of Germany with concessions to the USSR over the Kuriles and Sakhalin Islands.

·        A committee on the dismemberment of Germany was to be set up.


Winston S. Churchill*, (1874-1965), who was an appointed, not elected Prime Minister and was wildly popular, was forced to face a general election in Great Britain in July of 1945. King George VI* basically called it because Britain felt it needed the two party system again. The Conservatives were supremely over-confident and based their whole election on the reputation of Churchill. Labour offered a new all-inclusive welfare system, reflecting the general feeling that improvements were needed. The Conservatives wanted no part of the Labour program. Churchill made a strategic error of miss-characterizing his opponent Clement Atlee’s wartime contributions, even though Atlee was an active and useful member of the War Cabinet. The Conservatives were also blamed for the policy of “Appeasement” which was associated strongly with Churchill’s predecessors Neville Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin. But is seemed that the largest issue with the voters, in one opinion poll, was that of social reform. This reform would later involve the following: housing, national health, insurance and educational standards.As a result of this unexpected landslide Labour received almost 50% of the vote and picked up 239 seats while the Conservatives with just over 36% of the vote lost 190 seats. There were also some minor shifts with the Liberals and the National Liberals losing 9 and 22 seats respectively. Therefore the stage was set for change. When the votes were finally counted from the overseas ballots, the Conservatives were out and Churchill was forced to resign as Prime Minister and Clement Attlee* (1883-1967) replaced him at the Potsdam Conference.


* Clement Attlee- Labour Prime Minister 1945-1951, led nationalization of industry in Britain, and established socialist reforms, Deputy Prime Minister 1942-5, Made First Earl Attlee, replaced as PM by Churchill in 1951, even though Labour won more votes than the Conservatives and more seats in Parliament.


* Winston S. Churchill – British Prime Minister 1940-1945, 1951-1955, Nobel Prize winner 1953, Chancellor of the Exchequer 1924-1929, Home Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty WWI and WWII.


                        *British monarch who reigned from 1937 to 1952, after the abdication of his brother Edward VIII.


Of course, besides the final results of the Potsdam Conference, which was chaired by the newly sworn in President Harry S Truman (1884-1972), a declaration was made to the Japanese. The resulting Potsdam Declaration stated, Japan must surrender immediately and abide by the following:


·        The end of Japanese militarism

·        Japan would be occupied until objectives were met

·        The declarations of the Cairo Conference would be carried out

·        The Japanese Army would be disarmed and returned to the home islands

·        War criminals would be prosecuted

·        Freedoms of religion, speech and of thought along with fundamental human rights would be established.

·        Unconditional Surrender


If not, Japan “would face prompt and dire consequences.”  Of course, this meant in no uncertain terms that the full force of the United States, the British Empire and the Republic of China would strike unprecedented blows that would lead to “the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter destruction of the Japanese homeland.” When Truman * authored this statement, he was aware of the fact that the atomic bomb worked. The “Trinity Test” at Los Alamos, New Mexico, had worked spectacularly on July 16, 1945 and the witnesses were able to feel the heat of the blast on their skin 32 kilometers or 20 miles away. After the successful testing of this first atomic device, Truman, who was staying at the Little White House, in Babelsburg, just outside of Potsdam, received the following encoded message from Henry L. Stimson through his aide in Washington. This was the first official report to the President regarding the “bomb.”


“Doctor has just returned most enthusiastic and confident that little boy is as husky as his big brother, the light in his eyes discernable from here to   Highhold and I could here his scream from here to my barn.”


Highhold, 250 miles from Washington, DC, was the summer place on Long Island of Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson* (1867-1950), a conservative Republican appointed by FDR in 1940 to head the War Department.


* Harry S Truman – President of the United States, 1945-1953. United State Senator, 1934-1945. Truman created the Truman Doctrine that confronted Soviet expansionism in Turkey and Greece, and supported the Marshall Plan that helped put Europe back on its feet.


* Stimson had previously been a young lawyer in the law firm of Root and Clark where he became a protégé of Elihu Root, who later became a secretary of war and then state. Stimson later was appointed the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York He was a candidate for governor of New York, a Secretary of War under President William Howard Taft, 1911-3, and a secretary of state under President Hoover, 1929-1933. In this message, his aide Harrison is referring to “Little Boy” the black and orange shaped bomb weighing nearly five tons. 


There are a number of different versions regarding Truman’s remarks to Stalin about the power of this new weapon. Truman said in his book Year of Decisions (1955) that “On July 24th, I casually mentioned to Stalin that we had a new weapon of unusual destructive force. The Russian Premier showed no special interest. All he said was he was glad to hear it and hoped we would make good use of it against the Japanese.” Maybe his quote is better remembered as, “A rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”


Churchill seemed to remember the event differently in his book, Triumph and Tragedy (1953) and seemed to believe that Stalin was “…delighted. A new bomb! Of extraordinary power! Probably decisive on the whole Japanese war! What a bit of luck!”  Churchill had the impression that Stalin was glad to hear about it but totally unknowledgeable about how it came about. But of course, in retrospect, we know now that Stalin was quite aware of the development of the bomb through his master spy Klaus Fuchs, (1911-1988) * who was a son of German Lutherans, and was a physicist assigned to the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. James Byrnes* (1879-1972), who was then secretary of state, writes in Speaking Frankly (1947) “that Truman told Stalin that after long experimentation, we had developed a new bomb, far more destructive than any other known bomb, and we intended to use it very soon unless Japan surrendered.” Byrnes also seemed to note Stalin’s lack of interest in the details of the weapon. Charles Bohlen, (1904-1974), Truman’s translator, in his book Witness to History (1973) wrote that “…years later Marshal Zhukov, in his memoirs, disclosed that that night Stalin ordered a telegram sent to those working on the atomic bomb in Russia to hurry with the job.” Soviet Marshall Georgii Zhukov’s (1896-1974) * version, in his book The Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov (1971) was that “Stalin in my presence told Molotov about his conversation with Truman. The latter reacted almost immediately. ‘Let them. We’ll have to talk it over with Kurchatov and get him to speed things up’. I realized that they were talking about research on the atomic bomb.” Later Zhukov added, “It was clear already then that the US Government intended to use atomic weapons for the purpose of achieving its imperialist goals from a position of strength in the cold war. Without any military need what so ever, the Americans dropped two atomic bombs on the peaceful and densely populated cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”


*James F. Byrnes – was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1911 and served until 1925. He was a US Senator from 1931-41, a Supreme Court Justice from 1941-2, Head of the Economic Office of Stabilization and War Mobilization Board, “Assistant President” 1942-5, Secretary of State 1945-7, and Governor of South Carolina from 1951-5.

* Georgii Zhukov – Marshall of the Soviet Union’s red Army, defeated the Germans at Stalingrad 1942, led the final Soviet offensive into Berlin- April 1945, Soviet Defense Minister –1955.

* Klaus Fuchs – German born theoretical physicist, and British citizen, who worked at Los Alamos and leaked atomic bomb secrets to the Soviets. Arrested and convicted in Great Britain and sentenced to 14 years in prison, he served nine years and was released in 1959. He was stripped of his citizenship and emigrated to Dresden, DDR.


Of course this sounds like Cold War propaganda of its most basic type. The United States was facing a most difficult task ahead regarding the invasion of Japan. We had just experienced two brutal campaigns in Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and we were facing the human terror of the kamikaze in the surrounding waters of those islands. So we see a few different perspectives of this event. On one hand, we see Truman’s simple view of it all, with Byrnes in basic agreement. Byrnes, of course, was quoted in his book in 1947 and Truman, with the advantage of writing years later, concurred in 1955. Later in 1960, Byrnes would reiterate the same feeling that Stalin had no real appreciation of what was said to him by Truman. Marshall Zhukov, years later stated, that Stalin really knew and was acting the part of being uninterested. Of course this whole account by Zhukov served a dual purpose. One aspect was that the Soviets had successfully penetrated Los Alamos and were able to be informed by their spies. The other aspect was that this episode also seemed to feed fuel to the Soviet argument that the western Allies were not really upfront or sincere with them about sharing information. Besides those two points, Zhukov reflects on the brutality of the United States policy and its infliction of unnecessary casualties on the Japanese people.


Of course Japan would never surrender and if any one individual attempted to follow this course of national action, he would be removed violently by the fanatics within the military. This of course set the stage for the ultimate delivery of the atomic bomb on Japan. There is general historical disagreement regarding not only how the Japanese reacted to the Potsdam Declaration, but which people really represented the government or had access to the Emperor. There is evidence that the Japanese had made overtures to the Soviets regarding a possible avenue regarding a “negotiated” peace. But of course the Soviets had different designs on Japan, and they were looking to get a large piece of a future “occupation” prize.


The Japanese home islands had been bombed for many months, but without much success. Originally the new Superforts, as the silver skinned B-29’s were known, were being flown out of India and China. Unfortunately, they had problems with their electrical systems, and their superchargers had a tendency to fail at high altitudes. The flights out of China wound up being ineffective, but the sight of those great sleek birds heading off to Japan emotionally buoyed the Chinese. Eventually these air-pressured sealed behemoths were able to move into the Marianas (15 islands with Saipan, Tinian and Rota the best known) and begin their Pacific mission. The B-29’s were the direct heir to the fabled B-17 Fortresses, that, with the able assistance of B-24 Liberators, carried the strategic bombing load of the 8th and 15th Air Forces in Europe. Strategic daylight bombing helped win the war in Europe, but American airman paid a heavy price in casualties. Aside from the infantry, the Army Air Corps took the next greatest losses during the war. The Army Air Corps suffered 24,288 men killed in action along with 18,699 who were missing and mostly presumed dead, 18,804 wounded and 31,436 men shot down and captured.


The B-29 Superfort was 99’ long, stood 27’ 9” high and had a wingspan of 141 feet. It was heavily armed with 12 electronically guided 50-caliber machine guns and one 20 mm tail gun. It was an air-pressured sealed 4-engine bomber that could operate at 38,000 feet which was above any Japanese fighter’s maximum ceiling. It could cruise at 350 mph and had a range of over 3500 miles with a bomb load of 4 tons. When the B-29’s moved into the Mariana Island group in June of 1944 everyone expected them to have greater success. The round trip from the Marianas to Japan was 3000 miles and the Forts could easily handle that distance. In their first strike on November 24, 1944, a force of 111 Forts was led by Brigadier General Emmet O’Donnell in the Dauntless Dotty piloted by Robert K. Morgan (1918-2004). Morgan had commanded the famous Memphis Belle, the first B-17 to complete 25 missions over Nazi controlled Europe. The Memphis Belle and its crew became a national heroes and celebrities by being featured in the 1944 William Wyler* (1902-1981) documentary, Memphis Belle, the Story of a Flying Fortress.


Of the 111 Superforts that took off that day, only 24 made it to their target. Because of high winds at the altitude the B-29’s flew, their bombing was not very affective. Along with many operational failures, the top military planners were concerned with the B-29’s future effectiveness. There were too many aborted flights, too many glitches in equipment, especially at high altitude and, of course, too few planes reaching their destinations. With this great concern the Army Air Force, under the command of General Henry Arnold* (1886-1950) looked to young Major-General Curtis Lemay for help. Lemay was the no-nonsense 38-year old commander of the 3rd Air Force Division in Europe. He had been serving in India and was transferred to the Pacific to command the 21st Bomber Command on January 20, 1945. Lemay, (1906-1990), who was born in Ohio in 1906, had attended Ohio State University. He joined the Air Corps in 1928 and started to serve with bomber aircraft in 1937. At the outbreak of World War II, he was then a Lt. Colonel in command of the 305th Bomb Group. He took a B-17 unit to England as part of the 8th Air Force and often flew on dangerous missions. He flew and commanded the 146-plane attack on the Regensburg part of the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission, in August of 1943. This raid was costly, and he lost 24 bombers, but it was part of a major effort to disrupt and destroy the suburban, but concentrated, German ball-bearing works centered in the Schweinfurt area.


By March of 1945 General Lemay was able to analyze the poor results of the early bombing missions over Japan. He was able to discern that his bombers were only able to deliver about 5% of their payload near their targets. Along with that poor success record, the accompanying losses of our planes and crews were way too high. The loss factor, along with the lack of success in hitting targets alarmed Lemay and his peers. Therefore General Lemay instituted a radical reversal in tactics. The bombing runs were now made at night at 5000 feet rather than at their previous high altitude level. All the armament was stripped from the Superforts and therefore their bomb capacity was increased. Because at the lower altitude levels, the B-29’s could fly faster and consume less fuel, this also enabled them to increase their bomb capacity. Lemay understood that the Japanese cities were mostly built of wood and that a switch to incendiary ordinance from conventional high explosives would be theoretically more affective. In this first attack 325 Superforts hit Tokyo on March 10th and were able to drop 1665 tons of incendiary bombs whiles sustaining the loss of 14 planes. Almost immediately the air war over Japan took a dramatic and positive turn for the allied effort. Over 100,000 Japanese were killed and 16 square miles in the center of Tokyo were raised. After this initial attack three more visits were made to Tokyo by the end of May and over 50% of the Japanese capital was destroyed. These actions were repeated all over Japan, and by the war’s end 69 Japanese cities were burned out.


In spite of that massive damage inflicted by American strategic bombing, the Japanese were thought to still have over 2,000,000 soldiers available, along with 8000 airplanes for the defense of their homeland. This of course did not include the millions of ordinary Japanese citizenry that were available as part of a home guard effort.


* Henry H. Arnold- the “Chief” to his subordinates- “Hap” Arnold was a graduate of West Point in 1907, spent his life devoted to the Army Air Corps –became Chief of Army Air Force in 1941, General of the Army in 1944 (5 Stars) and was the most well known advocate of air power.


* William Wyler- born Wilhelm Weiller to a Jewish Alsatian family- cousin of Hollywood magnate Carl Laemmle- youngest director at Universal at age 25. Academy Award director, known for Mrs. Miniver, Wuthering Heights, Ben-Hur, Roman Holiday, Little Foxes, and The Best Years of Our Lives. Flew on bombing missions and hearing was impaired by gunfire. He was the winner of the Irving Thalberg Award and the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award.


At the same time as General Lemay was turning around the air war over Japan, other events were happening. The United States was finishing work on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos and simultaneously developing the 509th Composite Bombing Group both in the United States and in the Pacific. The command of this special unit was turned over to Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., who was born in Quincy, Illinois in 1915. Tibbets, who led the first 8th Air Force bomber mission in Europe on August 17, 1942, later flew combat missions in the Mediterranean Theater and was the lead pilot used in ferrying members of the Allied Command from Great Britain to North Africa. He was considered one of the greatest fliers in our air force and was eventually assigned to Wendover Army Air Field in Utah. This command eventually became the 509th Composite Group, in connection with the Manhattan Project. (An excellent Hollywood production chronicles this effort in the film, Above and Beyond (1952) with Robert Taylor playing Colonel Tibbets.)


In the Pacific, the United States was involved in two desperate battles involving Japanese defenses of their outer home islands. With both, Iwo Jima (February 16-March 26, 1945) and Okinawa (April 1- June 21, 1945), the United States Marine Corps, under the command of General Holland “Howlin Mad” Smith on Iwo Jima and General Simon Bolivar Buckner in command of Marine and Army units met fierce and determined resistance. These Japanese units were supported by intense air support in the manner of the first massive and concentrated use of suicide fighter-bomber type aircraft, now known as the kamikaze. In the first and smaller battle for Iwo Jima, United States Marines encountered a strong entrenched force of approximately 21,700 crack Japanese defenders. After a brutal five weeks of action, starting in the first week with the raising of our flag on Mount Suribachi, 6,821 Marines gave their lives along with another 20,000 or so casualties out of a force of approximately 70,000 men. For their bravery the Marines were awarded 27 Medals of Honor. The Japanese losses were immense and only a little over 1000 survived with 200 taken prisoner out of their original force. The primary reason to take Iwo Jima was that it was halfway between Japan and the Mariana Islands where General Lemay’s 20th Air Force was located. Lemay stated to General MacArthur that the Army Air Force could not continue to sustain losses of aircraft and that he desperately needed a place to land his damaged B-29’s.  Therefore the taking of Iwo Jima would eliminate Japanese radar and fighter facilities and provide an emergency landing strip for his damaged Superforts. Over the balance of the war approximately 2000 damaged or out of fuel B-29’s made emergency landings on Iwo Jima, saving approximately 24,000 lives. The last major battle of the War in the Pacific was fought on the island of Okinawa, which is part of the Ryuku Islands. Again casualties were immense. Over 12,500 Americans were killed in action along with over 72,000 others wounded on Okinawa and in the fleet. The Japanese sustained over 110,000 killed, while only 7,455 were captured. In what was called the “Typhoon of Steel” or “Tetsu no bofu” in Okinawa, over one-third of the indigenous civilian population of 450,000 Ryukans were killed. Many of the immense losses to our naval and air personnel came at the hands of the kamikaze attacks. Hundreds of our ships were hit, with 38 being sunk. We were able to destroy over 7,800 Japanese aircraft, many on suicide missions, sink 16 of their ships, and we sustained the loss of 763 of our own planes.


According to Japanese official records, there were a total of 3912 kamikaze attacks, which represented 2525 from their naval air arm and 1387 from their Army air forces. The Japanese claimed that they sunk 81 ships and damaged another 195. The United States official statistics said that 2800 kamikaze planes were destroyed, 38 ships were lost and 368 others were damaged. As a result of this action, the Navy lost 4900 men and another 4800 were wounded. Almost 80% of the Navy’s casualties resulted from kamikaze action. Of all of the US Navy ships that were hit by suicide attacks, 8.5% were sunk.


Frankly this type of brutality frightened our commanders, both in the Pacific Theater of action, and in Washington. In the two major battles, fought from February to June, the United States had sustained almost 20,000 killed and close to 100,000 wounded. Along with those horrible losses, hundreds of ships were damaged by kamikaze attacks. Therefore with the strategic design for the invasion of Japan well under way, planners started to worry about the potential of immense and unacceptable casualties. These plans, encompassed in the overall Operation Downfall, were comprised of two separate operations regarding the invasion of the main Japanese Island, Kyushu and Honshu. Under the code names Olympic and Coronet, operations were to commence in November of 1945 and the spring of 1946.


Of course all of this brings us to the question of the atomic bombings of Japan. Were they necessary? Could conventional bombing have brought Japan to its knees? Could a complete naval blockade of the home islands starve Japan into submission? All those points have been discussed continuously since the close of the war. But certain points must not be forgotten. The Japanese had never lost a war and didn’t believe in surrendering. They found it culturally unacceptable. They were willing to take casualties to preserve their nation state, and they felt that they could inflict such a high price on the Allies that a negotiated peace could be achieved. Was this realistic thinking on their part? Probably not! But amazingly, in the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, when some military officials reported that since there was no bomb crater, many in the highest levels of the army believed that they could eventually go under ground and protect themselves from future atomic attacks. As strange as that sounds, fanatical thinking can lead to remarkable conclusions.


Therefore when one understands the potential threats that the kamikaze attacks held for the Allied landings one can easily accept and justify the use of atomic weapons. The Japanese plan for defeating the Allies was termed the “Virtuous Mission” or Ketsu-Go. In other words, would tremendous casualties make the price for Allied victory too high to accept. The Japanese had estimated quite accurately that the Allies would land at Miyazaki, Ariake Bay, or on the Satsuma Peninsular. They also had a strong idea when it would be launched, because they knew that the Allies would want to avoid the typhoon season. They were able to finally accumulate over 10,000 army and navy aircraft by July and expected to have 2000 more by October. During the Battle of Okinawa, with fewer than 2000 kamikazes they were able to get one hit on a ship per nine planes that were able to make an attack. At Kyushu, with shorter flight time to an off shore Allied Fleet, they hoped to raise that ration to one in six. Therefore they expected to sink more than 400 ships, and they were training their pilots to target transports rather than carriers or picket ships like destroyers. Though their navy had been greatly reduced and these ships couldn’t be adequately fueled, they had a large number of smaller or auxiliary craft that could be utilized. They also had about 100 Koryu-class midget submarines, and 250 smaller Kaiyo midget submarines. They had 1000 Kaiten manned suicide torpedoes and 800 Shinyo suicide boats for use against our Fleet. In March they had only one division in Kyushu, but by August over 900,000 men in 14 divisions and three tank brigades had been put in place. Additionally, the Japanese had organized all adult civilians into Patriotic Citizens Fighting Corps to perform combat support and ultimately combat jobs. (After the war, Japanese records indicated that our estimates of Japanese aircraft were grossly exaggerated.) But, nonetheless, as information reached Washington about the rapid build-up of troops on Kyushu, General George C. Marshall, the American Chief of Staff, looked to drastically change the Olympic Plan.


The American High Command even considered the use of chemical weapons. Even though the Geneva Protocol outlawed chemical or gas warfare, neither the United States nor Japan had ever signed the document. Despite Marshall’s trepidations, General MacArther dismissed any need to change his plans. He believed that the Japanese air potential was greatly exaggerated. In retrospect, regarding that threat he was more correct than the professional intelligence estimates.


In a study done by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in April, a 90-day Olympic campaign would cost 456,000 Allied casualties including 100,000 dead or missing. If therefore Coronet took another 90-days, the combined cost would be 1.2 million casualties with 267,000 fatalities. A study done by Admiral Nimitz’ staff estimated 49,000 casualties in the first 30 days and General MacArthur’s staff predicted 23,000 in the first 30 days and 125,000 after 4 months. A study done for the Secretary of War by William Shockley estimated that the conquering of Japan would result in 1.7 to 4 million casualties including between 400 and 800 thousand dead, along with between five and ten million Japanese dead. Nearly 500,000 Purple Hearts were manufactured in anticipation of the potential amount of wounded and killed.


Of course there were many more estimates from a variety of sources. We will thankfully never know what the true numbers would have been. Their estimates were all culled from earlier battles that included Normandy, Okinawa and even the Battle of the Bulge. But others thought that the Japanese were at their wit’s end and had very little fight left in them. Interestingly, and not known to the American planners, was the fact that the Soviets were planning to invade the weakly defended Hokkaido Island by the end of August. This action, following their invasions of Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands, would have put pressure on the Americans to do something by November when Operation Olympic was originally scheduled.


The American Fleet felt the impacts of the kamikaze suicide planes keenly. The ships’ officers saw that they were very vulnerable to a “cheap” but deadly form of warfare. These manned forbearers of the modern day cruise missile were able to penetrate a multi layered defensive screen of smaller picket ships. For the sacrifice of a pilot, who was only trained to take off, and the minor cost of an airplane, our largest capital ships were made quite vulnerable. Over 14% of the kamikaze attackers survived the intense anti-aircraft fire and scored hits on our ships. None of our carriers, battleships or heavy cruiser’s were sunk. Unfortunately our aircraft carriers were built with wood flight decks and were more vulnerable than the British ships, which had reinforced steel decks. Many ships were hit, and the smaller ones were damaged the most.


The atomic bomb was a product of a $2 billion effort named the Manhattan Project. The Project was directed by General Leslie Groves, (1886-1970), an engineer, who was born in Albany, NY and educated at MIT and West Point. Grove’s reputation as an engineer and a top-level manager was greatly enhanced when he directed the building of the Pentagon. He later made the controversial appointment of J. Robert Oppenhemer, (1904-1967), a left leaning physicist, who was born in NYC to Julius Oppenheimer. His father was wealthy textile importer, who had emigrated to the United States in 1888. Oppenheimer, educated at the Ethical Culture School in NYC, Harvard, and the University of Gottingen, where he received his PhD at age 22, was appointed the scientific director for the project because of his intellectual and theoretical strengths. Finally when the bomb was assembled and the joint work of the scientists at Los Alamos was finished, the first nuclear explosion was actuated near Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945.


The Trinity Test, as it was called, caused Oppenheimer to recall a verse from the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad Gita:


If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one…

Years later he would have other thoughts about another verse that had entered his head:

Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”


The completed bomb was brought to Tinian Island in the Marianas and made ready for delivery will a specially designed bomb bay. The first bomb, a uranium cored device, was code named Little Boy and was dropped by a plane named Enola Gay, and piloted by Colonel Tibbets himself. On board, only two others, Captain William Parsons and Thomas Ferebee, the bombardier had any idea of the nature of what they were doing. The rest of the crew was still in the dark. Hiroshima, a city of 343,000 persons was relatively unscathed throughout the war and few took notice of the small formation of Superforts. The bomb was released and floated down 5 miles by parachute and was detonated in the air. Most, if not all, did not know what had happened. Some histories have written that 88,000 were killed and 37,000 were wounded. One recent account said that 200,000 died immediately and 60,000 died within a few months of the bombing. Along with the deaths, over 80% of the city was heavily damaged. After a couple of days there was no sign of surrender from the Japanese, and the 2nd bomb, code-named Fat Man, a plutonian implosion device, which was much more powerful, was dropped on Nagasaki. It was just bad luck for them because Major Sweeney, the pilot of Bock’s Car, almost had to turn around because he could not find a target that he could see and was running low on fuel. They finally chose the unlucky city of Nagasaki, whose population was 250,000. Nagasaki was a supply port for military and naval supplies and was primarily located in a valley. Unlike Hiroshima that was located on a flat plain, Nagasaki’s location, to a degree, blunted the impact of the more powerful bomb. It was detonated at 1800 feet and within a few seconds 43,000 Japanese died. It was said that more than 75,000 others died in the next decade from the radiation sickness from the explosion. Bock’s Car, because of its low fuel was forced to land at Iwo Jima, where no one there was aware of its mission.


In retrospect many people in the ensuing years criticized America for burning down 69 Japanese cities. Others certainly criticized the American government for dropping the Hiroshima bomb, and than following it with the Nagasaki bomb. Many thought that the first bomb should have been used in a demonstration for the Japanese. Others felt if the demonstration had failed, the 2nd bomb could still have to be used on a city. In truth, the Japanese did not respond to the dire warning and the request to surrender. Therefore the Japanese did not accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. We also did not have another atomic bomb ready for delivery, and it is possible that if the Japanese did not surrender, we would have been in a quandary. There were few other targets to hit and it would seem that conventional bombing alone would not bring Japan to her knees. Of course others stated that the idea of “unconditional surrender” stiffened the resistance of our enemies and caused more needless casualties. And still others believed that we used the atomic bomb as a message to the Soviets. Certainly our thinking towards the Soviets was starting to change after the collapse of Nazi Germany, and problems regarding Poland and Eastern Europe were starting to emerge. It seems that the emergence of the suicide tactics both in the air, sea and land campaigns did most to frighten American planners. This intangibility led Americans to believe that this combined operation leading to the invasion would be as bloody as Okinawa. Of course Truman later stated, and I paraphrase, “that if the mothers, daughters and wives of our killed servicemen knew I had a weapon that could have ended the war, and did not use it, they would never forgive me.” For sure, state sponsored terrorism, which features suicide as a weapon can drive nation states into methods of retaliation once never imagined.


In conclusion, are we now facing a new and more dangerous threat from people who teach their children that dying is good? Traditionally life is generally considered and thought of as sacred, especially one’s own life! During World War II, the Western democracies that made up a large part of the collective effort against the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, Japan, and their lesser allies; Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Croatian Puppet State), basically adhered to the “rules of war” articulated from the accords of the Geneva Convention. As signatories of the Geneva Convention, most of the participants refrained from using outlawed weaponry that involved, chemicals, gas, and germs. Japan certainly used germ warfare in China and the well-published barbarisms of both the Germans and the Japanese certainly stretched the established rules of “so-called” civilized warfare. Of course one of the reasons The Hague and Geneva Conventions banned certain substances or weapons of war was because nation states were afraid to be victims of those same banned practices. The classic example was the use of mustard gas in World War I. Gas warfare was always at the mercy of the prevailing winds, and therefore both friend and foe quickly became victims of a gas attack. During World War II, state sponsored suicide in battle reached a climax with the “Divine Wind” kamikaze attacks upon our naval forces in and around Iwo Jima and Okinawa. As I have written earlier in this piece, Allied planners were so concerned with this type of warfare that their trepidations regarding the dropping of the atomic bombs became secondary to their fear of unacceptable losses.


Now in this new era, where suicide bombers commandeer planes, or explode themselves in crowded market places, or on trains loaded with passengers, what is our defense? What is our defense against a suicide agent bringing in a satchel with a nuclear device or another weapon of mass destruction? Can a state be held ultimately responsible for these aberrant acts of international organizations? That is the question! 















Clinton, Bush, the Middle East and the Politics of Failure 8/8/06

Clinton, Bush, the Middle East and the Politics of Failure


Richard J. Garfunkel

August 8, 2006


Thanks for the incisive letter and the perceptive thoughts. History is not rife with examples of many farsighted, sensible or brilliant individuals. For my money I have always been interested in World, American and mid-20th Century history. My focus has been our history from 1933 until 1945, with some extra thoughts on why we came to need the New Deal and the direct consequences of finally winning the war and dealing with the peace. For better or worse, every one I know, in the Tri-State metro area still generally likes Bill Clinton. If one looks back on his job ratings (CNN/Time, CNN/USA Today, NBC/WSJ, Pew, CBS, LA Times, etc) one would find that between 1997 and 2001, on a weekly tracking poll basis, he was never under 56% and was over 72% in certain weeks. With a considerable amount of animus against him, and with all the disappointments many of his friends had in his personal conduct, his poll ratings averaged in the 60's. Since then, the public's perceptions and warmth toward Clinton have only gone up. Obviously if one compares almost anyone with our current inarticulate so-called leader, they will look better. This current team of W, Rummy, and Rice-a-Roni leaves me and 10's of millions sick. But even if one thinks our policy is/was flawed, our direction miss-guided, and the reasons for its justification wrong, invented, or just stupid, no one can deny, even with the belief that it is too late to “cut and run,” our management over there is, and has been terrible and a disaster. Therefore, as it often has been said, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” So even if one thought, right from the start, that the Bush gang was correct about WMD's and the need for regime change, the process was flawed with mistakes of poor judgment fraught with incompetence.


With regards to our information agencies and their lack of direction, funding and purpose, I cannot disagree with you. Whatever Clinton did, or did not do, vis-à-vis the CIA, NSA, FBI and the like, history will have to sort it out. Remember Carter was not liked by most of the public, and for sure I was one of his critics, but Harold Brown, Carter’s enlightened and brilliant Defense Secretary, put all the weapon systems that Reagan bragged about in place. Also by the way, it was Prince Ronnie who three days after a speech on “staying the course” in Lebanon, in the wake of the loss of 241 Marines to Hezbollah, pulled out of that land lock, stock and barrel. The information and spy agencies were politicized over the years and they have become fat, expensive and lazy! What else is new? They are like most of our other institutions here in the States.


Israel has as much right to the land they occupy as any one. In fact, they have a greater right. The Arabs, as a whole, are a stupid, backward, and venal group. Only a few of their vast numbers have the guts to stand up and say what is right. Brigands, and their tribal blood feuds lead them and religious insanity makes them the bane of the current world. The Orthodox Jews, whether Lubavitcher or Satmar, can be quite different and difficult to understand. They may be impossible to like or even deal with, but they are not a warlike, violent, or evangelical group. They have their arcane customs and so be it. They certainly are not the picture or profile of Israel. With regards to the borders, what makes ownership of the land start at 70 AD, 1919, 1947, 1948, or 1967? In fact, the Arabs never owned the land. They owned, as individuals, parts of the land just like the Jews who had lived there. Jews always occupied some part of the land since before antiquity. There was always a Jewish presence in Jerusalem, Safad, Hebron, and Tiberias since Biblical times. Jews lived all over the Arab world, under their domination and thumb for almost two millennia. It is not like it was the reverse. But in the so-called Holy Land, the Turks controlled that area from 1516 to 1918. So the land was never “Arab.” They lived there, along with the Jews as the subjects of the Ottoman Empire as they were to become subjects of the British Empire.


But as Martin Gilbert has written, in Tunisia there were 110,000 Jews in 1948, was life easy? No! In 1881, as a French Protectorate, conditions improved for the Jewish Community, but in 1917 Tunisian troops pillaged the Jewish quarters of many towns. Mobs attacked Jews in 1932 because of European immigration to Palestine. Eventually with independence in 1956 conditions worsened for the Jewish population and by 1974, 2000 Jews remained. In Yemen the Jewish population went from 55,000 in 1948 to 500 in 1974. Jews had lived there for over 2000 years in 1900. In Aden there were 8000 Jews in 1948 and almost none in 1974. Anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist laws were introduced in Yemen in 1905. For example there was a re-introduction of laws that Jews could not build houses higher than those of Muslims, or to raise their voices in front of a Muslim, or engage in religious discussion with Muslims, or be in any traditional Muslim trade or occupation. Even laws were enacted that forced the conversion of Jewish orphans to Islam. In Morocco the Jewish population was 285,000 in 1948, and 20, 000 in 1974. There were Muslim attacks in 1903, 1907, and 1912 and after WWII many riots leading up to the general immigration of Jews from that land. As late as 1965, the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” were published and disseminated again in Morocco. The Jewish population of Egypt in 1948 was 75,000, but by 1974 it had been reduced to 350. In 1844, 1881, and 1902 there were anti-Jewish riots emanating from accusations regarding the ritual use of blood. In 1882, 1919, 1921, 1924, Jews were attacked in anti-foreigner riots. In 1945 there were “Balfour Day” riots leading up to confiscation of lands, abrogation of rights and outright expulsions through the 1950's and up to 1967. In Syria, the population of Jews shrunk from 29,770 in 1943 to 4000 in 1974. The kind of anti-Jewish laws in Syria were and are unbelievable. But, historically in 1936-9, Nazi officers from Germany institutionalized violence against Jews after a visit. The story of Syria is too sick to even repeat here.   


The saga of persecution, discrimination, prejudice and violence is unending. Therefore Palestine/Israel became the refuge of 100's of thousands of Middle Eastern Jews, no less the ones who wished to flee from Europe where they were not welcome. FDR met with King Ibn Sa'ud, of Saudi Arabia on February 14, 1945 in the Great Bitter Lake. Which is located in the Suez Canal. He conferred with Rabbi Stephen Wise and his cabinet before he left for Yalta, and told them that he would “try to settle the Palestine situation.” He had discussed the concept of a Jewish homeland with Stalin at Yalta and said that he was a Zionist, but he recognized the difficulty of the Jewish problem. After meeting with Sa'ud on the USS Quincy, and through much discussion, the suggestion from Sa'ud was that the choicest lands in Germany be given to the Jews. Of course there is much more to the story. That issue was a non-starter, as much for the fact that no one could be positive that German anti-Semitism would not arise in the future and make life impossible again for the Jews.


FDR tried to convince Sa'ud with all of his charm, and with the promise of economic aid, irrigation projects and improved living standards, about the need for a Jewish Homeland, but Sa'ud wanted none of it. He had little cares for any improvements regarding the lives of his own people. Sa'ud said, “Arabs would choose to die, rather than yield their land to the Jews.” What else in new? So the Arab world, for better or worse, did not want an avalanche of European Jews into Palestine. They also wanted to dominate and abuse the 800,000 plus Jews spread under their control throughout Arab lands, and they certainly did want those Jews to move to Palestine to create their own homeland. They wanted it both ways!


With regards to the Death Camps of Nazism, they are not a passion with me. They are only a part of the story, but for all Jews, a big part of the story. With regards to Israel, your point about anti-Semitism not being the core issue has some vague merit. I assume that if Israel was a country of evangelical Christians, I could guess or imagine there would be similar problems. But, then again, the problem of the Middle East is not only the one of control between the more western-leaning secular Sunnis versus the more religiously extreme Shi'ites, but the problem of modernism versus tribal traditionalism. The Islamic Arab and Non-Arab oligarchs from the Fertile Crescent to North Africa are not comfortable with a republican form of democracy or what it brings. They have yet to enter the age of enlightenment, and the specter of education, equality for women, religious freedom, and personal rights is still far beyond their ken and political interests. Israel, and the Jews, represents the freethinking pluralism of the West and the Islamists fear all of that, in the same way that Sa'ud would not accept the offer, given by FDR in 1945, to uplift his people. He told FDR that he was an uneducated Bedouin and was comfortable with his values.


With regards to today's current struggles, the President talks of this war on terrorism as WWIII. But he fights it on the cheap, is bogged down in both Afghanistan, where most of the original problem was concentrated, and is in a mess in Iraq. We are in a diplomatic black hole because of his inept leadership and the way up and out is not easy to even imagine.


For sure our military is too highly concentrated in carrier task forces, and nuclear submarines, our air force is a strategically oriented one and both of those branches of our armed forces are over-funded, over manned and staffed. At the moment we need a larger infantry and more mobile shock forces. We need more anti-missile defenses and less emphasis on the Cold War mission.  No one, including ourselves can afford our military. But, with regards to North Korea, our strategic air force and our carriers groups still are vital. But how many task forces can we afford to “float?”


All in all, hopefully the first step is the destruction of Hezbollah. If they are put out of business, the Iran-Syria connection will degrade. We have to support regime change in Syria, which will unburden Lebanon as their vassal state. We than have to erode the mullah supported government of Iran by isolation, embargoes, boycotts, and propaganda. This action will strengthen the moderate Arab position. Syria is the heart of the problem and almost always has been. They must be marginalized. They are a poor worthless country that has no oil, and no real future accept as a conduit of violence and de-stabilization. The time is ripe to go after Assad and get him out! 



—–Original Message—–

From: Kaaren A. Hale []

Sent: Monday, August 07, 2006 9:25 PM

To: 'Richard Garfunkel'

Subject: RE: The Strategy of Confronting Hezbollah



If this current shoot out were just about murdering Jews it really would be

clearer to one and all.  Anti Semitism is a real phenomenon for whatever

reasons, religiously, historically,socially,  but right now the world is

dealing with issues  which are complex and troublesome in a different way.

We are dealing with an age old  schism in the Arab world, a bid for

leadership by Iran, the results of our enslavement to fossil fuels,

resentment of colonialism, and the use of the Palestine/Israel issue as a

control tool of retrograde Arab administrations for decades. 


The West is also paying a price for its decadence and inattention to threat.

Clinton was at fault for his lack of perception of the scope of the problem.

US Intelligence agencies have been gutted for decades and unable and

unwilling to share information effectively. Technology has impowered the war

making capacities of non nations.    Bush and Co.  has been criminally

naïve, fighting the Cold War and not the new NET war.  Europe is dealing

with a declining birthrate and a work force that was augmented by its

nearest neighbours in North Africa and the Near East, just as the nature of

America is being inexorably changed by unstaunched immigration from Central

and South America. 


I think the Nazi murder camps certainly are a legitimate passion and concern

of yours, but aside from moral implications,  I see little relationship to

what is happening today,  except Israelis are Jewish and they are located in

the contentious crossroads of the ancient world. The Arab press and

governments are rife with anti Israeli and Anti Jewish sentiment, but this

latest conflagration is about much more than that.  It is about who will

rule, who will have a control of the declining oil supplies to the exclusion

of others in the coming decades.

One could wring one's hands endlessly, but I believe the reality is

realpolitick, with the added fillip of a religion that has never really

reformed itself and is in the middle of a chaotic revolution with very high

stakes.  What a mess.




New York, It's a Helluva Town 8-2-06

New York, It’s A Helluva Town


Richard J. Garfunkel

August 2, 2006


Maybe that lyric best describes the vicious weather that has enveloped Gotham over the past few weeks. On Saturday we ventured into the “baked” Apple to see the Washington DC spoof, “Capital Steps” at The Supper Club, located at 240 West 47th Street. Thankfully saner out-of-towners stayed away from the City and since traffic was lighter than usual, parking was available on 10th Avenue.


We found a small vest-pocket type eatery on 46th Street called the Hour Glass Tavern. This eclectic place, located right in the theater district, is squeezed into an ancient brownstone. Up the timeworn stairs we were able to find a nice window table with our fellow adventurers; Dr. Herbert Schoen and his wife Marian. The food was good and reasonable. Can you imagine a dinner for $14.95! Everyone had something different, while I stayed with one of my favorites, tortellini!


Of course “Capital Steps” made mince meat out of the current movers and shakers in Washington. But, it wasn’t only the GOP that took it on the chin, as Al Gore and Hillary were also targeted with their barb-like lyrics. After almost two hours of belly laughs we exited out into the scalding sidewalks and started to look for ice cream to cool our now warm palates. Strangely we found our way up town on Broadway near Barnard College, Linda’s alma mater. Finding a space on Broadway we dropped in to La Monde, which has an outdoor café area.


Today it’s another scorcher here in the Hudson Valley. Linda was hosting a cocktail party for new young associates being considered by Charlesbank Capital Partners, and our Israeli cousin Dr. Ami Raz from Tel Aviv and Arad was in town, so I decided to take him to the Jewish Heritage Museum. So it was 100+ degrees! So what! For all of you strangers to Babylon on the Hudson, the museum is on Battery Street, just south of the new ultra expensive Stuyvesant High School and west of “Ground Zero.” After a quick and effortless trip south on the West Side Highway we fortuitously found a space on the street two blocks from the museum, and after a short walk by the watery edge of Lower New York Harbor along with a great view of Lady Liberty, we meandered our way to the museum. For all of you that haven’t been there, go!


So after a two-hour or so visit we headed up the FDR Drive to Houston Street and Katz’s Deli. It was 95 degrees at 7:00 pm! Wow! After we wolfed down two lean pastrami sandwiches, along with French (freedom) fries, cole slaw, Dr. Brown’s cream soda we were off to Charlesbank on East 55th Street. (On the corner there is a Maserati dealer!) The town was so empty that we made it fifty blocks from 2nd Street in 7 minutes! We parked on Park Avenue, which was alliterative and went up to see her offices, pick up whatever beer and goodies were left, and pack up and go home. Mind you, it was still 92 degrees at 9:00 pm so don’t let any one tell you New York City is not a “helluva” town.  

Letter to the Editor -The Temple Israel Rally -8-1-06

Letter to the Editor:


August 1, 2006


Recently I attended, along with 1200 others an ecumenical rally supporting the State of Israel held at Temple Israel in White Plains. I must applaud Councilperson Glen Hockley for supporting Mayor Joe Delfino’s effort regarding his personal show of solidarity with the embattled Israeli State in her struggle with the number one terrorist organization in the world today.


Americans have long supported international efforts to combat state terror, totalitarianism and fascism around the world. They volunteered to fight for China against Japan with the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers), fought with the RAF against the Nazis in the Eagle Squadron, organized the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to support and fight with the Spanish Republic against Franco and volunteered in Ethiopia to fight Mussolini.


We have a long tradition of public officials speaking out and endorsing democratic struggles and embattled nations around the world that have been attacked by dictators and their sycophants. Nowhere are we seeing a greater struggle than on the northern border of Israel, where their troops are fighting Hezbollah, the armed surrogates of Iran and Syria. These two notorious havens for terrorists, haters and opponents threaten our western way of life, which supports pluralism, democracy, and The Four Freedoms. Do not forget for one moment that Hezbollah has been the terrorist organization that has killed more Americans than anyone else except the brigands that smashed into both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.


Richard J. Garfunkel