Episode Archives

The Cold War in Europe with Steve Bourque

In continuing the Cold War Series, Steve Bourque joins Mark to discuss his experiences in the U.S. Army during those years. We get the perspectives of a young enlisted man stationed in western Europe during the Cold War. We also get to look at the situation from another vantage point—when he returned later as an intelligence officer. The tactical approach to keeping Europe safe and how American and NATO forces counter a threat from the Soviet Union during those uncertain times come to light in the discussion.

Photo: Steve Bourque on the Czechoslovakian border during the Cold War

About Steve Bourque

Steve Bourque, author of The Allied War Against France, is professor emeritus at the Army Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, Kansas. He served for twenty years in the U.S. Army in Germany and the Middle East. Dr. Bourque received his Ph.D. from Georgia State University. He has taught history at Cal State University and the School of Advanced Military Studies at the Command and General Staff College.

George Luz, Jr. Remembers His Dad and the Men of Easy Company

Guest George Luz, Jr. shares stories about his father, George Luz, who was a paratrooper with E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. They discuss the experiences of the men of Easy Company who fought with him during WWII, and the training, toil, camaraderie and sacrifices of this storied unit that was immortalized by Stephen E. Ambrose in his best-selling book, Band of Brothers.

Pillar of Easy Company

“One of the pillars of Easy Company,” was how Major Richard Winters described him. George Luz was born into a large Portuguese-American family in Fall River Massachusetts on June 17, 1921. Moving with his family to Rhode Island in search of work, Luz quit school in his junior year to help his parents and eight siblings make ends meet during the Great Depression. Incensed as many Americans were by the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Luz enlisted in the Army and, attracted by its elite status and the extra 50 dollars a month jump pay, volunteered for the newly formed airborne forces. Ordered to Camp Toccoa, Georgia, Luz arrived at the newly created home of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment to begin what he would later call, “the best three years of my life.”

George Luz, Jr.’s journey began when he was 9 years old in 1965 at the 101st Airborne Division Reunion at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. For over 53 years, he has been blessed to spend time with these men, their wives and their children. As we say good bye to each and every one of them, he feels it is his honor and privilege to share their stories.

Soviet Naval Challenge in the Cold War : Part II with Reid Senter

Mark returns to the Cold War with Part II of the Soviet Naval challenge, this time covering surface operations. His guest is Reid Senter, a retired U.S. Navy Captain who served in the Mediterranean. They discuss various aspects of serving in an Amphibious Ready Group, facing the Soviet Navy whose main interest was protecting the “Motherland,” and the Walker treachery. Reid points out that Soviet ships were always “bristling” with extra arms and equipment, possibly needed because of questionable reliability. He also gives a tip of the hat to the professionalism and quality of the young men serving in today’s Navy.

Photo above: Reid Senter served aboard the USS Inchon, an amphibious assault ship of the Iwo Jima class.

Captain Reid Senter was commanding officer of the USS Reid (FFG-30), a guided missile frigate.

The Soviet Naval Challenge in the Cold War with John Lindstedt

Mark speaks with John Lindstedt, who was a junior officer serving aboard a nuclear submarine in the Cold War years. They discuss the qualifications and training involved, the constant readiness, and the differences between U.S. and Soviet vessels. They also highlight the ever-present threat of the Soviet Navy in the Mediterranean aided by the treachery of John Walker and his career of passing classified information to his masters in the Kremlin.

Photo: This is the Ben Franklin class submarine-nuclear that John was on, the USS Kamehameha SSBN-642. (King Kamehameha IV was King of Hawaii when the Civil War started and proclaimed Hawaii’s neutrality in August 1861.)

Trench Dogs: A Graphic Novel About WWI

Mark interviews Ian Densford, an artist and animator whose graphic novel, Trench Dogs, draws its inspiration from a collection of first-hand accounts from WW1. This fictional story of World War I is an anthropomorphic retelling of that global conflict and the soldiers who experienced the horrors of the front lines and high seas.

More Information About Trench Dogs

While the nightmares of World War I and the aftermath are sometimes forgotten, this book asks the reader to look again and remember the dead, and to weigh their number against those who would choose war. Conceived as a long, continuous camera pan through the trenches and beyond, the reader is soon buried in mud, corpses, and ruin, emerging on the other side with blurred recollections of lost comrades and a nagging sense of pointless destruction. Ian Densford’s graphic watercolors paired with a spattering of onomatopoeic utterings create an unforgiving tale of the “war to end all wars.”

Order a copy of Trench Dogs >>

Trench Dogs Study Guide

Trench Dogs is based upon actual events and hundreds of photo, film and illustrated references. It is meant to showcase events and introduce subjects from soldiers view at the front, not the politics and territorial gains from a broader overview. This study guide is to help decipher the events depicted, but further research is always needed.

Download a PDF of the Trench Dogs Study Guide >>

 

Historical Events That Happened in August

This week Mark takes a look at some events that happened during the month of August in the Civil War and WWII, including the infamous Quantrill’s Raiders,  Nathan Bedford Forrest’s raid on Memphis, the Siege of Leningrad, and the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.

Image: Forrest’s raid into Memphis – Rebel attack on the Irving Prison.

WWII Pilot Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa: Naval Hero

WWII pilot, Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa, became a naval hero fighting the Japanese in the Pacific. Author, Ted Edwards, joins Mark to discuss his biography of Swede, Seven at Santa Cruz. The fighter pilot ace dive-bombed and helped sink the first aircraft carrier lost by Japan. The next day, he took off from USS Yorktown and out-flew and out-gunned three Japanese Zeros. We get a close up look at the battles of Santa Cruz and Coral Sea and learn how “Swede” Vejtasa became the only dive bomber pilot to be awarded Navy Crosses for both bombing and aerial combat.

Author Ted Edwards

Author Ted Edwards is a frequent contributor to the Naval Aviation News and uses his experience as a historian and author on other World War II aviators to capture the straight-forward fighter pilot that was at the core of Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa’s personality. In all, Edwards collects information from not only secondary resources, but also from primary sources such as letters, after-action reports, official records in the national archives research, and 11 interviews conducted by the author, to include an interview with Vejtasa himself. The combination of historical records and personal interviews throughout the book, combined with the ease of reading the material, help to present both a factual and personal account of Vejtasa and naval air operations in the Pacific theater.

This biography follows World War II fighter pilot ace Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa from his Montana home, through numerous World War II aerial battles, to his post war service as the Air Boss on USS Essex (CV-9) and Captain of USS Constellation (CV-64).

This work is the first biography on Vejtasa and clearly fills a void in previous literature. Anyone interested in learning about the pragmatic and sometimes abrasive fight pilot ace Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa, or about World War II naval aviation, would be well rewarded for the time spent reading this thoroughly researched and well written book.

Buy a copy of Ted Edward’s riveting Seven at Santa Cruz at the Naval Historical Foundation>>

Battle of Second Manassas

In August 1862, after the Confederate victory in the Battle of Second Manassas, or the Second Battle of Bull Run as it was referred to in the North, Robert E. Lee had the momentum to lead the Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland that September. There he would gain support in that border state, resupply his men and pressure Washington into negotiations with the upcoming elections.

General Jack Mountcastle joins Mark to discuss the extensive tour he leads for Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours that covers Manassas as well as the other key events in the Eastern theatre. We explore the strategies, leaders on both sides and specific actions in the battle and leading up to the fight. It’s the closest thing to going to the battlefield itself.

Kate Tietzen on Iraq: From Ancient to Modern Times

With the Middle East at the forefront of international news, Mark revisits his conversation with Kate Tietzen about Iraq, from ancient to modern times. They discuss the conflicts, sometime resolutions and the evolution of the country. Her in-country research delves into the many facets of the Iraqi people, the religious factions and the nation’s friends, foes and allies.

Photo: British Troops in Baghdad in June, 1941.

About Kate Tietzen

Kate Tietzen is a PhD candidate in Military History at Kanas State University. Her dissertation explores the Iraqi-Soviet relationship in the Cold War, analyzing this dynamic through the Iraqi point of view by using Ba’athist regime documents housed in the United States. She seeks to demonstrate the complexity of the Cold War in the Middle East, and to draw out the legacies of this relationship in the post-Cold War era.

As she noted in an article she wrote for the Hoover Institution, where she is a Silas Palmer Fellow:

“My dissertation analyzes the formation, development, and continuation of the Soviet-Iraqi military and diplomatic relationship. I argue this relationship was neither one-sided nor heavily in favor of the Soviets, but was rather fluid and dynamic, creating much frustration for the Soviets. In addition, the Cold War dynamic between the Soviets and the Iraqis did not cease with the fall of the U.S.S.R. in 1991; instead, the relationship was only renewed and even strengthened as the Americans assumed hegemonic status. With these Iraqi documents, this dissertation seeks to reveal how the political, diplomatic, and military conditions created in the Cold War did not simply cease after 1991. Therefore, the historical legacies and consequences of the Soviet-Iraqi military and diplomatic relationship can help inform scholars, policymakers, and contemporaries about the Middle East today.”

Kate received her B.A. in History and Political Science in 2012 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2014 she received her M.A in history from Clemson University under the guidance of Dr. Edwin Moïse. While her M.A. thesis examined the Falklands War 1982, in the fall of 2014 she pivoted towards the Middle East upon arrival at Kansas State University.

LIfe in Jefferson Davis’ Navy

Dr. Barbara Brooks Tomblin joins Mark to discuss her recent book, Life in Jefferson Davis’ Navy. She addresses every aspect of the officers and men who served in the Confederate Navy—from the daily life of the sailors to the combat they endured. Through diaries, letters and newspaper accounts, she vividly depicts the wartime experiences on the gunboats, ironclads and sailing vessels in the Civil War.

Overview of the Book

The Civil War is often considered a “soldiers’ war,” but Life in Jefferson Davis’ Navy acknowledges the legacy of service of the officers and sailors of the Confederate States Navy. In this full-length study, Barbara Brooks Tomblin addresses every aspect of a Confederate seaman’s life, from the risks of combat to the everyday routines which sustained those sailing for the stars and bars. Drawing upon diaries, letters, newspaper accounts, and published works, Tomblin offers a fresh look at the wartime experiences of the officers and men in the Confederate Navy, including those who served on gunboats, ironclads, and ships on western rivers and along the coast and at Mobile Bay, as well as those who sailed on the high seas aboard the Confederate raiders Sumter, Alabama, Florida, and Shenandoah.

The author also explores the daily lives, deprivations, and sufferings of the sailors who were captured and spent time in Union prisoner of war camps at Point Lookout, Elmira, Camp Chase, Johnson’s Island, Ship Island, and Fort Delaware. Confederate prisoners’ journals and letters give an intimate account of their struggle, helping modern audiences understand the ordeals of the defeated in the Civil War.

About the Author

Barbara Brooks Tomblin is a naval and military historian and author of G.I. Nightingales, With Utmost Spirit, Bluejackets and Contrabands, and The Civil War on the Mississippi. She has a doctorate in American history from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey where she was a lecturer in military history.

Order you copy of Life in Jefferson Davis’ Navy>>