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A Seemingly Stupid Question About War


KWRB
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Someone on this forum said recently that everyone in America should be made to watch Saving Private Ryan. I just watched it again. This is the third or fourth time.

In my mind, I'm comparing this with Memphis Belle, and I have questions.

During the War, did soldiers come home? Did the government spend resources on transporting soldiers to the rear or all the way home for respite? Seems like a risk and somewhat wasteful considering the circumstances. And when soldiers were drafted -even enlisted/commissioned- was it open ended as in, you're in the service until the war ends or you die, whichever comes first? That seems like it could be a morale killer, but I don't know how else you'd do it.

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I don’t know what the rules were, but my grandfather was in from the time he was drafted until the wars end. His father died while he was in England as an Air Corps mechanic and he was not allowed to come home for the funeral. 

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Same as I took and they were volunteering to serve their country 

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45 minutes ago, KWRB said:

Someone on this forum said recently that everyone in America should be made to watch Saving Private Ryan. I just watched it again. This is the third or fourth time.

In my mind, I'm comparing this with Memphis Belle, and I have questions.

During the War, did soldiers come home? Did the government spend resources on transporting soldiers to the rear or all the way home for respite? Seems like a risk and somewhat wasteful considering the circumstances. And when soldiers were drafted -even enlisted/commissioned- was it open ended as in, you're in the service until the war ends or you die, whichever comes first? That seems like it could be a morale killer, but I don't know how else you'd do it.

From what I have read most were in for the duration. Some of the bomber crews had a 25 mission and then home but later on that got raised to a higher number.

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1 hour ago, dale560 said:

From what I have read most were in for the duration. Some of the bomber crews had a 25 mission and then home but later on that got raised to a higher number.

This is what my understanding is, whether the number of missions were raised because of a shortage of aircrews, either because of losses, or because of the numbers of new aircraft arriving needing aircrews, I do not know.  Remember that the USAAF were able to launch "Thousand plane raids" towards the end of the war in Europe, but you also had raids like those over Schienfurt and Polotsi where the losses approached 75-80 percent.

And, we were becoming ever more capable in the bombing of Japan, so there was another need for personnel.

The Memphis Belle and its crew was one of the very few aircraft brought home to become a 'cause' to boost morale, and to raise money through the purchase of war bonds.

"Heroes" were brought home (although many resisted leaving), for the same purpose, and I imagine that the severely wounded were brought back to the US for specialized medical care.

And, I do believe you were in for the duration, my Dad enlisted in either 1940, or 1941 (BEFORE the draft) and was discharged in late 1945.  (The military used a point system to determine when you were released)  My Dad was the eldest, and his two brothers were exempted by being farmers.

It is my understanding that Vietnam was the first war, where the men went home after 12 months, (13 months if you were a Marine),  Suppossedly, this caused problems because there was no unit cohesion because of the constant coming and going of personnel.

I have never seen "Saving Private Ryan".  For me the BEST movie regarding WW II is "The Best Years of Our Lives" and "Dr. Neumann, M.D."  Although "A Walk In The Sun, is based on Audie Murphy's experience, just as "Sgt. York" was based on his experience in WW I.

I should mention "Hacksaw Ridge".

The best, and I believe probably the most honest/realistic movie about Vietnam is "We Were Soldiers, Once, and Young"

I can kind of understand why OUR grandfathers, fathers, brothers were reluctant to talk about what they had seen, or went through.

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2 hours ago, Dirt_Floor_Poor said:

I don’t know what the rules were, but my grandfather was in from the time he was drafted until the wars end. His father died while he was in England as an Air Corps mechanic and he was not allowed to come home for the funeral. 

Wow, same story here, the old man joined in '40, my grandmother died in '43, he got word and dat was dat, got to send respects, he got married over there and came home at the end in '45, five year hitch start to end, I always swore he lived a charmed life, he was one of seven bren gun carrier drivers and except for a couple of parts left over there he was the only one to come home.

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KWRB, im way too young and inexperienced to answer your question but this is my take. I think men were a lot different back then, at least most of them...women too. People were proud and proud to stand behind their country. Im not gonna say every conflict was necessary, thats for another conversation... but i will say for me anyway i would go knowing i may take one for the team. If i had blood brothers and they were there too, id stay even if i was the last one. I never served and am kind of talking out of turn and i mean no disrespect to those who did. At 42 i would still stand for my country if they asked me now...even knowing i may not come back to my perfect loving wife. She knows how i feel about this and accepts the risk i would take. My dad actually persuaded me not to follow his footsteps..he joined the navy in 67 but he did tell me hed respect whichever decision i made. My mom was bent over it and wanted me to live a "good" life. There is a warrior inside of some of us and with that comes fight and an unbridled need to go to the end....whatever end that may be. We all die and most of us dont get a choice of how...we just remember the ones before us and keep going.

I do hesitate to post this....i dont want to be disrespectful. 

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Curios about the "everyone should be made to watch saving private ryan" comment. I didnt read this thread.. can anyone enlighten me?

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4 hours ago, Art From Coleman said:

I have never seen "Saving Private Ryan".  For me the BEST movie regarding WW II is "The Best Years of Our Lives" and "Dr. Neumann, M.D."  Although "A Walk In The Sun, is based on Audie Murphy's experience, just as "Sgt. York" was based on his experience in WW I.

I should mention "Hacksaw Ridge".

The best, and I believe probably the most honest/realistic movie about Vietnam is "We Were Soldiers, Once, and Young"

While "Saving private ryan"  is well worth the watch, it is a bit Hollywood in regards of script.....I would add to that list "The thin red line" which to me gives much more of an atmosphere to feel like you are there. It came out about the same time as private Ryan I think so what somewhat overshadowed and missed. For classics also see "The cruel Sea", "Above us the waves", "The dam busters", and "Das Boot", "Light up the sky", "Malta Story", "The silent enemy"

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Bomber crews were the only ones rotated back home. Other than the severely wounded. They were sent home to train new crews.

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I’ll mention here another excellent book by Stephen Ambrose, Citizen Soldiers. Covers D-Day through May 7, 45. It’s just heartbreaking to read what those men endured.  Books like this should be part of high school curriculum. People need to know what was given to maintain our freedom. 

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I dont know but have read that they no longer teach ww2 in history classes in highschool? If so I feel that is negligent, bordering on criminal. It is important our children know and understand that important part of our history.

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Thanks all.

Like @TwolinesI'm about that age and the biggest "regret" I've got is that I never served. But it's also a much smaller military today, and there is some role to play being an advocate for America holding a pen, conducting business, and making purchases. It would run afoul of the rules to tell you all how strongly I feel about buying American and why.

And I also have veteran family who I distinctly remember standing at the workbench telling me he didn't think it was a good idea, and wanted me to go to college instead. That settled it for me. I did and do trust him. He's been there

So can we say with confidence that the infantry in Europe, the only way they were going to see old age, was to win the thing while evading death themselves? Or put another way, no one was "retiring" while a world war was on. Like I said, seems like a silly question, but I'd never thought about that part of it. For me, I'd fight for old age as much as I'd fight for my country.

I recently read To **** and Back, Audie Murphy's memoir, and I couldn't help thinking then too, at what point do you say "this man has done enough", instead of "good job, but you're not dead yet so keep going". What that man lived through... The book couldn't have been titled anything else.

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2 minutes ago, iowaboy1965 said:

I dont know but have read that they no longer teach ww2 in history classes in highschool? If so I feel that is negligent, bordering on criminal. It is important our children know and understand that important part of our history.

I used to think I was a fairly recent graduate, but my 20 year reunion is this year. When I was in high school I couldn't imagine being 20 let alone being 20 years past graduation.

Anyway, my recollection was this: everything was rushed. In New York, global studies are taught over two years. If I remember correctly it was prehistory through roughly the rise of nation states (~1700 maybe) in ninth grade, and 1700-present in tenth grade. US History is taught in a single year -usually eleventh grade, and includes everything from colonization through present. "Present" includes more and more every year, and there's just no time process everything; it's a 300 year dead sprint in nine months. Just recently I saw my US History teacher, who I liked, but to whom I also gave a hard time. I remember getting kind of annoyed that we spent something like two classes on the Korean war, and protesting this point to her in class. She very calmly and eloquently said that she had a curriculum to get through, that we only had X class days remaining in the year. She informed me in front of class that her own father was a Korean War veteran and that it was certainly important to her. The implication was a polite "don't go there with me". That was a memorable conversation, hence I'm recalling it in great detail 21 years later

So I doubt it's "not taught", but it's probably not possible to teach it in the kind of detail that you, I, or many teachers would think is adequate.

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One of the guys my Mom dated after my Dad died had been part of a bomber crew. When he bailed out of the plane after it was hit the prop took off his heel on one foot.  He hit the ground in France, hooked up with the underground and made it back to England, then the states. He had to wear a special shoe the rest of his life, but was able to get around fine. Yeah, those guys were tough.

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33 minutes ago, yellowrosefarm said:

One of the guys my Mom dated after my Dad died had been part of a bomber crew. When he bailed out of the plane after it was hit the prop took off his heel on one foot.  He hit the ground in France, hooked up with the underground and made it back to England, then the states. He had to wear a special shoe the rest of his life, but was able to get around fine. Yeah, those guys were tough.

Sounds like my great uncle on my Grandfathers Reichow side of the family except for the wounds. 

He was a ball turret gunner and his plane went down over France. He was taken in by the underground and smuggled back to England. 

With him he came back from the war fearless as all get out and just didn't give a $-it. Owned a major concrete company He was hard charging, you were there to make him money. No exceptions. He paid well but you better give it your all. Some of the stories I've heard about him from multiple sources about the times his crews would cross. Picket lines and the after hours poker games. 

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My recollection of history class is hazy but I recall spending more than 1 or 2 classes on ww2 and Korea. 

I may be wrong but i was thinking when you signed up it was for the duration plus 6 months or something similar. Now once the war was over a lot got released before that time as they were no longer needed. But I think in anticipation of peace keeping and whatever else came after the war was the reason for the 6 month thing. They were desperate times in a world with a way different mindset than today.

Technically Vietnam was not considered a war, we were advisors or some such. That plus the fact it was not popular here in the states maybe contributed to the 12 month and out thing?

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10 hours ago, KWRB said:

Someone on this forum said recently that everyone in America should be made to watch Saving Private Ryan. I just watched it again. This is the third or fourth time.

In my mind, I'm comparing this with Memphis Belle, and I have questions.

During the War, did soldiers come home? Did the government spend resources on transporting soldiers to the rear or all the way home for respite? Seems like a risk and somewhat wasteful considering the circumstances. And when soldiers were drafted -even enlisted/commissioned- was it open ended as in, you're in the service until the war ends or you die, whichever comes first? That seems like it could be a morale killer, but I don't know how else you'd do it.

  Born in the 1960's but it seems like I heard guys say who were around then that if you got leave you took it near to where you were stationed.  I don't think leaves were very long anyways.  Maybe 1-2 weeks.  Not long enough to board a ship to the US from Europe and back in that time period.  I agree with those that say once a person was in they were in for the duration.  What would have happened if the war dragged out another couple of years I don't know?  The services tried promoting where possible to provide incentives to stay motivated and towards the end the promise of a GI Bill for quite a number that had no money for college based on their civilian resources.

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My dad was drafted during the Vietnam war.  When he was stateside I think he was allowed to go home once or twice.  Once overseas, I think he was there until his hitch was up.  They might have got R&R leave but that did not get them home.  

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3 hours ago, cedar farm said:

Bomber crews were the only ones rotated back home. Other than the severely wounded. They were sent home to train new crews.

Yes they were and did, but they also had a pretty bad odds of making it that long.  I believe the 8th Air Force lost more men over Europe than the marines lost in the pacific during the entire war. 


In the early years not many expected they would make it home, and just like other combat troops they carried scars for the rest of their life.

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6 hours ago, AKwelder said:

Yes they were and did, but they also had a pretty bad odds of making it that long.  I believe the 8th Air Force lost more men over Europe than the marines lost in the pacific during the entire war. 


In the early years not many expected they would make it home, and just like other combat troops they carried scars for the rest of their life.

The losses were close to 90,000, not deaths but the attrition calulated "casualties", the tail gunner had an average of 5 sorties, the belly gun had a high mortality rate but a low injury rate, "armor design", the nose gunner was in a precarious position also because the favorite way enemy fighters attacked a bomber was from the front slightly offside and fire into the cockpit taking out the pilots, the nose gunner would return fire but also take the brunt of fire. 

Bombing missions had a 1 in 10 chance of dying, after 10 missions they were on borrowed time and the planes that made 25 were held in great esteem, if you look at pictures of returning bombers and the damage inflicted and the flyability afterwards balls and guts were the norm, but if you look at it from another perspective these were under 25s as officers and teenagers as flight crew, I started my work life and being on my own from 16 and I recall what a stoopid immature assshole I was til my mid 20s and think of being in that same position what a lifechanger it would have been, my old man grew up during the 20s, the dirty 30s and the stoopid immature stuff he did until he joined the army and had to accept the mantle of responsibility to fight for his country, great thread.

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Dad was served the navy during WWII. Uncle Neil was a bomber crewman in Europe.

The enlistment was for the duration of the war plus 6 months. Dad signed up to help take surrender of jap forces in China for another 6 months.

Uncle Neil flew his required flights as bomber crew then was assigned duties on base in England. He was not given the option to come home. Neil was a little crazy after that.

Nobody came home until Uncle Sam was done with them.

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1 hour ago, Rusty shackleford said:

War is dumb, I been there, there's no reason for it.

That's a ducking mouthful from someone who has seen it, thanks,my old man said the same thing and the older I get the feeling is that also, I will always wonder what our countries "could have been" without the loss of almost half of two generations, and mired with the ducking polutants running our countries now, along with the mutant political spectrum we are being mandated to accept.

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I agree that war is dumb...but ask china russia and a few others what they think.

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