‘Any a you sumbitches calls me grandpa…’


My wife cut my hair last night, and we decided on something new — instead of using a No. 7 guard on the top and a 4 on the sides, we went with 4 all over. A lot of white hair fell, I can tell you. This is probably the shortest my hair has ever been, at least since the Beatles came to America in 1964.

Afterwards, regarding myself in the mirror before showering, I thought I looked familiar.sam as sgt maj

Oh, yeah… Sam Elliott in “We Were Soldiers.” Except his hair was a bit longer than mine — the damn’ hippy…

By the way, unlike the sergeant major, I have no problem with being referred to as a grandfather. And I won’t kill anybody over it. I actually think being a grandfather is pretty great. That was just the first quote that came to mind. It’s at 1:20 on the clip below.

Just don’t try to tell me what a nice day we’re having.

Anybody notice that that bit of dialogue seems ripped off from “Stripes?” Never mind. If the sergeant major ever actually said it, he did it long before “Stripes.” And he had every right to. I wouldn’t have argued with him…

8 thoughts on “‘Any a you sumbitches calls me grandpa…’

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      It was on my mind because I had just rewatched it last week. It’s on Prime at the moment.

      Made me want to go back and watch “Hamburger Hill.” But that was NOT available, either on Prime or Netflix.

      Speaking of major battles the Army fought in Vietnam, it would be good to see one about the Battle of Fire Support Base Ripcord. That was the last significant battle the Army fought in the war, and happened not far from where Hamburger Hill did. It even involved elements of the same division, the 101st.

      Few people know about that one. There was almost no coverage of it at the time, and the Nixon administration wasn’t going around boasting about fights in which 75 Americans were killed.

      But even though there are no big Hollywood movies, you can go see a huge, intricately detailed diorama of the battle site at the Relic Room. It just went up last year, and it’s out in the atrium, which I think was the only place where there was room enough for it. Here’s a picture I took of a veteran of the battle pointing to the exact spot where he was deployed during the battle…

      Craig Van Hout

      1. Bryan Caskey

        I’d like to see a modern movie made about The Last Stand of Fox Company.

        Synopsis: In October 1950, Captain Barber was ordered to Korea and took part in the action for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart Medal – at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in November and December 1950. He led Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in a desperate five-night, six-day defense of a frozen mountain pass vital to the 1st Marine Division’s breakout to the sea. The stakes of this battle were high: if Fox Company did not hold its position at Toktong Pass, 8,000 Marines at Yudam Ni would be cut off from the other 3,000 Marines at Haguru Ri by tens of thousands of Chinese troops. The Marines fought in sub-zero temperatures, outnumbered five to one. Captain Barber was hit on the second night of action (November 29) by a ricochet bullet which lodged in his pelvis, fracturing the bone.

        Despite increasing pain, he refused morphine and continued to lead his troops using a makeshift crutch. The unit was ordered to withdraw and fight their way back to safety, but with no way to transport the 45 wounded (plus 20 killed) that he had suffered on the first night of battle, and knowing the critical importance of holding the pass, Captain Barber refused to budge. His position was under constant sniper fire during the days; and the enemy broke through the lines three times during five successive nights of relentless attacks numbering hundreds of Chinese, but Barber managed to hold on with the help of air support & resupply during daylight hours, and with the support of marine artillery located nearly seven miles away at Haguru Ri.

        By the end of the battle for Toktong Pass, more than 1,000 enemy soldiers had been killed in the vicinity of “Fox Hill” by Captain Barber’s original 246 men only 60 of which were still on their feet when they reached Haguru Ri.

        On August 20, 1952, Major Barber was presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in ceremonies at the White House.

  1. bud

    It’s fascinating watching neocons wax nostalgic over the horrors of war. In the warped mind of the warmonger everything, even a haircut, conjures up memorable images of death and destruction in some distant battle. This dangerous mindset inevitably leads to the craven support of more wars in order to to satiate an unquenchable appetite for more battles and heroes to lionize. It leads to basic denial of facts like the inexplicable belief that the domino theory is real or that presidents never lie about facts that recklessly thrust a nation into war for no damn reason. Of course the neocon will deny their inner yearning for war in much the same an alcoholic denies a substance abuse problem. But perhaps there is hope for the neocon if they choose to recognize they have a problem. But as long as we glorify war with endless deification of combat there is little chance to bring about a cure. Heck we can’t even change our ridiculous war themed national anthem to reflect peace, prosperity, health and beauty. And I find that very sad.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      “Heck we can’t even change our ridiculous war themed national anthem to reflect peace, prosperity, health and beauty. And I find that very sad.”

      Bryan’s Top Five National Anthems:

      1. USA. A good tune. It sticks in your head, commemorates surviving the British shooting at us, ends with a feel good sentiment.
      2. France. Who doesn’t like the Marseillaise?
      3. Russia. Let them sing.
      4. England. It’s so good, we Americans ripped it off for our own song.
      5. Uruguay. In a surprise, it’s Uruguay. The anthem is light and bouncy, with a quick tempo, it’s like something Rossini would have written. Perfect for a South American country.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I’m with you, Bryan. Although I would probably put the Ecuadorean anthem in the No. 5 spot. For personal reasons. When I was a kid, I could have sung it for you.

        Also, I’d go back and forth on whether to make the Marseillaise or the Russian anthem No. 2. The Russian one is awfully good.

        But I’d probably in the end keep the Marseillaise at No. 2. Because “Casablanca”…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Of course, if I’m honest, and we’re talking about musical appeal, the German anthem is way better than the ones from Ecuador OR Uruguay.

          But then, when you hear a bunch of actual German men sing “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,” it loses a good bit of its charm. It conjures images of those guys standing around the piano in the gray uniforms in the movie

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