Sure, the internet leads us to some pretty amazing things…

I have to remind myself of that after the last couple of weeks of my life.

First there was the week when I could only occasionally get any wifi coverage up to the laptop in my home office. The extender had a great signal, but no internet. The main connection came and went, so it took me several extra hours to get any work done that week. So I switched from AT&T to Spectrum. And I’m now on my fourth Spectrum router, and still don’t have a signal that reaches everything in the house. Something I’ll have to work on today, as I’ve had to do every day for a fortnight.

So this is a good moment to remind myself that as frustrating as connecting to the internet can be, once it’s working, it brings you wonderful things. Such as this…

Y’all know I do communications work for the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, one of many ADCO clients. Which can be fun for me, with my interest in military history. I’ve also told you recently about the impressive new Vietnam exhibit that opened on Veterans Day. If you haven’t checked it out, you should.

One of the things you will see there is the combat fatigues of Col. Myron Harrington, USMC, retired. Well, Col. Harrington himself was the featured speaker Friday at one of the museum’s Lunch and Learn lectures. And at the last minute, we realized we couldn’t lay hands on the PowerPoint presentation from his last talk at the museum, so I undertook to put one together for him.

Of course, my main tool for that was Google Image Search. And there are quite a few images involving Col. Harrington there, as his is a fascinating story. At the start of 1968, then-Capt. Harrington was in Vietnam, but as part of a supply battalion. Finally, he got the transfer every young Marine captain wants, to command of a combat company.

Two weeks later, when he had barely learned the names of his platoon leaders, the Tet Offensive began, and his company was thrown into perhaps the most intense part of that fight — the Battle of Huế. There, he would receive the Navy Cross for what he and his men accomplished.

Back to the internet… So I find various images from Huế, some of them featuring Harrington. One of them I hadn’t seen before. The colonel was familiar with it, but hadn’t seen it in years, and was surprised I turned it up. It gave him an additional anecdote to tell on Friday.

The image is above. In the foreground you see an apparent combat-weary Marine. But actually, it’s Sir Donald McCullin, perhaps the most famous war photographer of his generation — later knighted by the Queen. You may have seen some of his work on display in another museum — The Tate in London. Behind him in the photo you see Capt. Harrington. This photo was the cover of The London Times magazine back in the late ’90s.

Turns out, the captain had contacted McCullin to tip him that he’d better come along to Huế, because he was really going to find some extraordinary images there. (Harrington had little use for the “war correspondents” who did their reporting from Saigon. But he respected McCullin, who came out and stayed and truly reported the war.) And McCullin did. One of them was the one you see below, which you’ve probably seen many times, especially if you read about PTSD.

As it turns out, not only was the photo taken during the Battle of Huế, but the Marine with the classic “thousand-yard stare” was one of Harrington’s own Marines, a member of Company D, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division. And no, Harrington can’t name him today (that story in the Times magazine was about trying to identify him), but he can tell us this was a veteran who had seen a lot of action before this battle. And now he had finally seen enough, and everyone could see it, so he was soon evacuated.

Anyway, it’s another one of those fascinating connections that crop up unexpectedly on the Web. Today, I’ll learn something else — if I can keep the blasted wifi working…

2 thoughts on “Sure, the internet leads us to some pretty amazing things…

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    I like connections. Back in the ”80s, one of my reporters remarked that you could always tell a Brad Warthen column (I wrote a weekly one in those days) — it was always one thing that reminded me of another thing that reminded me of yet another thing.

    True, that’s what I enjoy. I don’t think he meant it as a compliment, though.

    Anyway, one of the great things about the Web, to me, is that it works like that…

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