Friday, October 8, 2021

The Art of Resistance


Justus Rosenberg, the author of The Art of Resistance ( turned 100 years old in 2021.  This centenarian was born in Danzig (Gdansk) to Jewish parents.  His father was a prominent businessman.  Rosenberg grew up speaking German.  The Free City of Danzig held a unique political identity.  It was a port, a financial center, an entrepôt filled with ethnic Germans and Poles.  In the 1930s it was a curious mix of Nazis, Jews and fence sitters.  Danzig was teeming with anti-semitism and persecution of Jewish businesses was a factor in driving Rosenberg from his homeland as a young man.  In 1937 Rosenberg left for Paris to pursue his study of French literature at the Sorbonne.

Hitler founder of the Woke movement?
"Deutschland Erwache!"

On his journey to France Rosenberg stopped to visit Berlin where he was hosted by his uncle Martin who was a distinguished music conductor.  While he was in Berlin he went to the Sportpalast to see Hitler give a speech which urged Germans to wake up ("Deutschland erwache!")  Rosenberg's kindly uncle did not exactly approve of his nephew's curiosity about the Führer, but he had faith in the German people.  Martin Rosenberg would later perish at Auschwitz along with so many others.

Young Justus Rosenberg

Rosenberg was enchanted by Paris and all of the charms that it could afford a young man.  He worked as an extra at a theater production of Eighty Days Around the World.  He walked the streets of Paris as a self described "Flâneur" (loafer).  He had a gift for language becoming fluent in German, French and English.  Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939 brought the loafing to an end.  Poland was quickly overrun by the German Blitzkrieg.  Danzig was fully absorbed into the Reich and Rosenberg's immediate family had been fortunate to escape its occupation.   The "Phony War" or 'Sitzkrieg" provided a few months of respite from the full horrors of war.  But these days were shattered by the fall of France and the Low Countries in the spring of 1940.

As the Nazis marched into Paris Rosenberg fled and tried in vain to enlist in the Polish army in exile.  Arriving in Bayonne he just missed a ship filled with Polish volunteers headed to England.  He drifted to the south of France where he eventually met Varian Fry, an American who founded the Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC).  Rosenberg was hired by Fry to work as an "office boy" assisting in the ERC's work of spiriting out refugees from Nazi-Occupied Europe to America.  The ERC is credited with saving the lives of hundreds of intellectuals and celebrities such as Andre Breton and Marc Chagall.  Fry was expelled from France by the Vichy government.  Rosenberg delivers his opinion that Fry was somewhat over-rated.

In August of 1942, not long after the ERC's expulsion, Rosenberg was rounded up by the collaborationist government along with many Jews of different nationalities and sent to an internment camp.  This camp was designed to be a way station prior to being sent to concentration and forced labor camps further east.  Rosenberg sensed the danger that he was in and put his acting experience to work feigning the symptoms of peritonitis.  He must have put on a convincing performance as the camp doctors removed his appendix!  Soon after recovering in a nearby hospital he managed to escape with the assistance of a local priest.  A close shave indeed!

Rosenberg then managed to join the French Resistance which was being supplied by Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE) and America's Office of Strategic Services (OSS).  He learned how to assemble and fire a Bren gun.  He trained to become a guerrilla fighter.  Rosenberg participated in several ambushes of German and was once wounded in the leg.

Many readers will be familiar with the Allied landings in Normandy (Operation Overlord) that began on June 6, 1944.  Less well know was Operation Dragoon which landed a force of around 150,000 men in the south of France beginning on August 15, 1944.  The French Resistance was doing all it could to prevent the reinforcement of the German encirclement of the Normandy beachhead.  It was blowing up rail lines, attacking German convoys, etc.

636th Tank Destroyer Battalion

It was in August of 1944, while preparing for a roadside ambush of three passing "German" soldiers that Rosenberg received a surprise that changed the direction of his life.  He noticed that they did not appear to be Germans at all.  He leapt out of his hiding place and shouted, "Stick 'em up!" in his best Hollywood Western accent.  Lieutenant Pete Rogers from the Reconnaissance Company of the 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion introduced himself.  This unit was formed in Texas and had seen hard service in the Italian campaign which began in Sicily in 1943.  Rogers, noting Rosenberg's linguistic abilities, would soon recruit him to join the American Army fighting in France and, later, Germany.  As a member of the 636th Tank Destroyer battalion he would interrogate captured German prisoners among his duties.  Rosenberg earned a Purple Heart after a jeep he was riding in hit a Teller mine on October 11, 1944.  Rosenberg and Rogers formed a lifelong friendship.  

Rosenberg's service in the US Army helped him to get a visa to immigrate to America after the war was over.  In the US he embarked on an academic career focussed on language and literature.  He taught at Bard College in New York's Hudson valley for many years.  He became a US Citizen and was, after an interruption of 15 years, finally reunited with those of his family members that had miraculously survived the war.

In 2017 Justus Rosenberg was awarded the rank of Commandeur de la legion d'Honneur by France.  At the ceremony he reflected on a Bertolt Brecht quote: "Pity the nation that is need of great heroes".   He also noted the traditional Jewish notion of Tikkun olam -- a duty to repair a broken world.  

Rosenberg was blessed by courage and good fortune.  A Roman Catholic priest once told him, "It is obvious that God had his finger on you."  Rosenberg, though ambivalent about religion, has blessed our world with his presence.  

Justus Rosenberg was and, blessedly, remains a great hero.  As a young man he fought for the principles that lie at the core of Western society.  He was incredibly fortunate to survive the bloodiest war in human history.  He has spent his life trying to repair our broken and often pitiful world.  As an old man he created amazing memoir -- The Art of Resistance (  This work is an instant classic that ranks right up there with other WW2 memoirs such as Iris Origo's War in Val d'Orcia ( and Audie Murphy's To Hell and Back (  Vive Justus Rosenberg!

If I ever had the honor of meeting Rosenberg I would have a single question: "Why did it take you so long to tell your story?"

You can find signed copies of our books at these web sites...



Thursday, September 16, 2021

Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone
1734 - 1820

Daniel Boone, a founding hero of Kentucky, was born on November 2, 1734 in Berks County, Pennsylvania.  Boone never did wear a coonskin cap (he thought them “uncivilized”) and he likely never carved “D. Boon kilt a bar” into a tree but he did become an American legend.  This courageous frontiersman and explorer was a Celtic Fighter who is sometimes confused with another Celtic Fighter -- Davy Crockett.

Boone was of mixed English and Welsh heritage. His parents were Quakers. In 1750 the family moved to North Carolina.

In 1756 he married Rebecca with whom he had ten children. 

The start of Seven Years’ War in 1756 brought an end to peace for the thirteen colonies and for Daniel Boone as well.  Boone signed on as wagon driver in General Braddock’s (Scottish from Perthshire) ill-fated Ohio River campaign.  Braddock and many of his men were killed in an ambush by French and Indian forces.  Boone managed to escape the carnage.

Daniel Boone Statue
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, KY

Boone participated in a campaign against the Cherokee in 1760.  In 1765 he explored Florida which had recently been acquired by Britain from Spain.

He first explored Kentucky in 1767 where he worked as a guide for fur trapping expeditions.  Fur hats were extremely popular in 18th century Europe and pelts could be easily turned into cash.

In 1774 Lord Dunsmore, the governor of Virginia sent Boone back to Kentucky to warn those on the frontier about the dangers of Indian attack.  Boone was made a captain in the colonial militia.

In 1775 he founded Boonesborough, Kentucky.

The start of the American Revolution made life more difficult for those on the frontier.  British gold helped to subsidize Indian hostility to the settlers.

Daniel Boone Indian Fighter
Boone Grave
Frankfort, KY

Boone himself was captured along with thirty others by the Shawnee in 1777.  He managed to talk his way into being adopted as a son by Chief Black Fish.  Five months after his capture in 1778 he managed to escape.

Boone assisted in defending Boonesborough from a Shawnee siege in September 1778.  His brother,Squire Boone Jr., was wounded in the shoulder during the siege. British-supported Shawnees assaulted Boonesborough on September 17, but were repelled after suffering heavy losses (thirty-seven were killed during the siege).  He was found not guilty in a court martial that followed the siege.

In August of 1780 he fought under General George Rogers Clark in the Battle of Piqua in Ohio.  The Americans earned costly victory over British and Shawnee forces.

In 1781 British forces invaded Virginia.  Lieutenant Colonel Boone took part in the defense of Charlottesville.  Again he was captured for a few weeks, this time by British troops.

Blue Licks Battlefield Plaque
Carlisle, Kentucky

In 1782 Boone led American forces at the Battle of Blue Licks in what is today Carlisle, Kentucky.  Fought ten months after Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown, this was one of the final battles of the American Revolution and a British victory.  Boone’s own son Israel was killed in the battle.

Following the 1783 Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolution, Boone moved with his family to Limestone, Kentucky.  He opened up a tavern and served as an intermediary with the Native American population, helping to negotiate prisoner exchanges.

Daniel Boone's First Gravesite
Marthasville, Missouri


In 1799 Boone, who had been unsuccessful at a number of real estate ventures, moved to Missouri which was then Spanish territory.  In 1819 the only likeness of Boone made in his lifetime was painted by the artist Chester Harding.  Boone died in Missouri in 1820 at the age of eighty-five.  Many years later his body was exhumed and the bodies of Boone and his wife Rebecca were re-buried in 1845 in Frankfort, Kentucky (though some, especially Missourians, believe they got the wrong body!).

Boone’s legacy, enhanced by many a tall tale about the frontiersman, endures in film, television, fiction and many places from Boone’s Tavern in Berea, Kentucky to Boone Counties in eight different American states.  Disney’s 1964-1970 TV series labeled Boone “the rippin’est, roarin’est, fightin’est man the frontier ever knew.”

Daniel Boone Grave
Frankfort, Kentucky

101 Fighting Celts: From Boudicca to MacArthur is coming soon!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Afghan Taxi Ride

Afghan Taxi Ride
2001 - 2021

(Author's note: Please note that this blog was written BEFORE the death of 13 American service personnel in Afghanistan on August 26, 2021.  And also before President Biden had the temerity to describe the American experience in Afghanistan as an "extraordinary success"-- certainly it was for the Taliban!  When I wrote this I was very much afraid that some of the lumbering troop transport planes could become sitting duck targets while landing and taking off from Kabul airport.  We do know that some of these planes were fired upon.  So I suppose that things might have been even worse than they actually were.  As usual, it will take years for the full story of the War in Afghanistan to be told with accuracy and perspective.)

What a long strange trip it's been!  Nearly 20 years ago, following the 9/11 attacks, America boarded the Afghan taxi invading the mountainous country that harbored Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaeda.  In August of 2021 the Afghan taxi screeched to a halt and its surly driver demanded that its American passenger leave the vehicle.  The meter has been running for twenty years as America's longest war ground on.

* Over 2,300 Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan

* Many thousands more were wounded in body in and mind

* Trillions of taxpayer dollars were spent to prop up a corrupt regime 

Now it seems that our Afghan taxi is dropping us off right where it picked us up 20 years ago.  The Taliban is now triumphant.  They currently occupy more Afghan territory that they did in 2001.  Afghanistan will be a haven for terrorists and anti-American extremists.  Al Quaeda and Isis will return to Afghanistan.

President Truman was blamed for "losing China"in 1948.  Biden will, more justifiably, take the blame for losing Afghanistan in 2021.  Robert Gates said that Biden had been wrong on every foreign policy decision for the last forty years.  Gates' verdict on Biden's appalling lack of judgement seems to be vindicated by events unfolding in Afghanistan.  A massive treasure in blood and treasure appears to have been squandered in hopeless nation-building that took place over four American administrations.

Not with a bang, but a whimper...

By reinforcing failure in a desperate attempt to extricate Americans and those Afghans who supported us, the Taliban is now left holding approximately 5,000 American potential POWs.  Twenty years ago we were shocked to see Americans were falling out of buildings.  Today we are shocked to see Afghan loyalists are falling from American airplanes in Kabul.


In the Afghanistan chapter of our 2014 work, America Invades, we wrote, "The attitude towards warfare in Afghanistan is very different from that in the technologically focused West. “Our enemies have the watches,” some Afghans used to say, “but we have the time.” It appears the Western presence may have run out of time in Afghanistan."  (

In 2021 under Biden that prophesy came true.

Could the situation in Afghanistan have been managed better?  Unquestionably, the answer is yes.  The strategic value of Afghanistan plummeted like a rock in 2011 following the death of Osama Bin Laden. (see earlier post on US Navy Seals... That was the time for an orderly American pullout.  An election year in 2012 made that problematic.

Remnants of an Army
Jellalabad 1842

Afghanistan has long been known as the "graveyard of empires",  Alexander the Great campaigned in the region.  The Romans followed for a while around two thousand years ago.  The British fought several disastrous wars in Afghanistan (depicted famously in Elizabeth Thompson's 1879 painting Remnants of an Army).  The country became Russia's "Vietnam" in the 1970s. -- a bleeding ulcer that doomed Soviet Communism.  Now it is the turn of the American superpower for humiliation.  Afghanistan seems less a country than a swirling vertiginous vortex of endless tribal conflict.   

The Afghan Taxi runs not on oil or electricity, but rather on poppies.  The poppy remains the only consistent Afghan commodity of value to the world.  Its important role in end of life pain control has long term economic value for the Afghan state.  The USA ought to have pulled its troops out years ago and sent the drug companies in.  Private security companies paid for by big Pharma might possibly have facilitated some measure of stability in the country.  But now that is mere speculation.

While we are speculating, however, we may ask who will be the next passenger for the Afghan taxi?  The Chinese?  The Iranians?  The Pakistanis?  Caveat emptor!

We Americans now know that we were taken for a ride.

You can find signed copies of our books at these web sites...


Sunday, August 8, 2021

Target Tokyo


In the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, Americans won 113 medals including 39 gold medals -- more than anything other nation.  Evidently many American athletes have been targeting Tokyo for some time now with their training.  Congratulations to the American athletes and all Olympians.  In April of 1942, eighty young Americans were targeting Tokyo as -- but their intention was to bomb it.  Doolittle's Raiders were  responding to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which was being planned exactly 80 years ago.  Dooltttle's Raiders did not win gold but their efforts materially helped to win World War II and create a lasting peace in which events such as the Olympics can take place. 

James Scott, author of the previously reviewed Rampage (, tells the full story behind the Doolittle Raid in his 2015 book Target Tokyo (

Jimmy Doolittle
1896 - 1993

Less than six months after the catastrophe at Pearl Harbor the USA launched an attack on the Japanese homeland.  Sixteen US Army B-25 bombers launched from the deck of the USS Hornet and led by forty five year old Jimmy Doolittle would avenge Pearl Harbor and make history.  Doolittle was a 5'4" dynamo of a man from Alaska who had trained as a pilot for World War I.  The Great War ended before Doolittle ever saw combat.  Between the wars, Doolittle became an accomplished racing aviator and barn stormer.  In 1930 he left the Air Force to join Shell oil company.  In January 1942, General "Hap" Arnold of the US Army Air Corps summoned Doolittle back to the military for "the most important military assignment of" his life.

B-25 Mitchell
RAF Museum, Hendon, UK

The B-25 "Mitchell" twin engine bomber was not as famous as the B-17 or the B-29 that succeeded it.  It did offer a 3,500-pound payload.  It only required 5 airmen to operate as opposed to 10 on a B-17.  Scott informs us that the B-25 "was chosen for the Tokyo raid for one reason -- its sixty-seven foot wingspan would clear the superstructure of an aircraft carrier."  

The Doolittle Raiders were all on a one way flight.  The B-25 had a 1,300 mile range.  It could take off from a carrier but could not land on one.  The Raiders' mission was to bomb Tokyo or other targets in Japan and then to fly on to airfields in Nationalist China.  Three minutes after the last B-25 roared off the Hornet's deck Admiral Halsey ordered the carrier to turn back to Pearl Harbor.  One of the Raiders, low on fuel, would fly north from Japan to a landing field in Soviet Siberia.  That B-25 was the only one that landed.  Their crew would suffer a harsh captivity in Soviet hands before eventually being allowed to "escape" across the border into Iran.  All the other Raiders followed their orders attempting to fly to China with most of the crews bailing out via parachute.

Three Raiders were killed on the day of the Raid. The Japanese executed three crew members that were subsequently captured in Japanese-occupied China.  Second Lieutenant Robert Meder starved to death in a Japanese prison camp.  Twelve other Raiders would subsequently be killed during the war.  The remaining 61 Raider survivors would celebrate their feat in memorable reunions that ran up until the last was held at the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio in 2013.  Richard Cole of San Antonio, Texas was Doolittle's copilot and the last surviving Raider; he died in 2019. 

FDR, when asked by reporters for the launching base for the Doolittle Raid, told them that they came from Shangri-La (a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by Jame Hilton).  Before the days of Instagram, secrets could be kept!

In America Invades (, we wrote, "The raiders inflicted minimal physical damage, but the psychological impact was enormous as the Japanese felt compelled to initiate the disastrous (for the Japanese) Midway campaign to prevent future American air attacks on their homeland."    On April 18, 1942 bombs were dropped on targets in Tokyo and other Japanese cities.  The Yokosuka naval base, for example was hit.  Some Japanese civilians were killed in the Raid and Japanese propaganda attempted to make the most of this in their reporting.  The Emperor's Palace was strictly forbidden as a target.

Chinese Civilians assist Raiders
National Museum of the US Air Force
Dayton, OH

By far the greatest casualties of the Raid were suffered by the Chinese civilian population.  Many Chinese had aided the American aviators.  For this they paid an awful price.  Scott informs us that as many as a quarter million Chinese were killed in retribution for the Doolittle Raid.  The Japanese employed gruesome torture methods and even employed bacteriological warfare to exterminate whole towns and villages.

The Doolittle Raid confirmed for the Japanese their plans to launch their attack on Midway.  To prevent a future attack on the Japanese homeland the defensive perimeter of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere had to be expanded.  Their plans called for Japanese marines to invade and occupy Midway Island.  The Midway campaign was a catastrophe for the Japanese who lost 4 aircraft carriers and control of the Pacific in the June 1942 battle.  The tide of battle had decisively turned in the Pacific.

In the closing days of the war, the Japanese home islands would be subjected to an unrelenting bombing campaign waged by B-29 Superfortress bombers.  This aircraft was so powerful that it,"staggers the imagination" according to Jimmy Doolittle.  A two day incendiary raid abasing Tokyo in March of 1945 killed over 83,000 people and left a million homeless.  In all Allied bombing would kill 330,000 Japanese and injure a further 475,000.  The atomic bombs dropped by B-29s on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the most destructive war in human history and seared a wound into the human psyche that endures to this day.

World War II in the Pacific was a colossally brutal war.   We may be grateful that brave young Americans answered the call to volunteer for the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo.  Their heroism helped earn the enduring peace that we enjoy to this day in the Pacific and most of our world.

You can find signed copies of our books at these web sites...


Monday, July 26, 2021

Katie Heath RIP (1953 - 2021)


Katie Heath RIP
1953 - 2021
From "Cooties" to Covid-19

My sister Katie was born in 1953 to Clinton Elliot and Nina Van Rensselaer.  Nina subsequently divorced and married my father Robert Kelly in Sacramento, California.  My dad adopted Katie (and my brother Clinton) at the time of his marriage to Nina which followed a whirlwind romance in Cuba and Mexico City.  Katie, born in New York, grew up as a California girl in sultry Sacramento where she loved to swim, ride horses and dance.

Katie had been born into the sunnier days of the Eisenhower administration.  Life was a bit easier and simpler back then.  They were more worried about catching "cooties" than deadly viruses.  Hula hoops were a bigger thing than Social Media.  Everybody liked Ike.  And Katie was very likable too.  Everybody liked Katie.

In 1960s California Katie grew to be a free spirit.  Perhaps even hippie.  She wore granny glasses and plastic mini skirts.  She love the Beattles and especially Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band.  She graduated from San Dominico school near San Francisco which is going strong to this day (  She thought that many of the nuns were cool -- one of the coolest wore a superman T-shirt underneath her habit!

She attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where she learned, among other things, how to make awesome Huevos Rancheros.  She served them with warm flour tortillas and ice cold Dos Equis beer.

Robert E. Kelly RIP
Adopted Katie Heath
1929 - 2008
From the Great Crash to the Financial Crisis

Our family loved to travel.  Our mother Nina had attended the Sorbonne and, during the Korean War, my father had served as a Private First Class in the US Army based in Verdun, France.  Our parents were serious about food and wine.  One summer in the 1960s my dad bought a VW bug and drove through Europe.  That was long before the European Union when borders meant something.  My parents were nervous about having their considerable stash of wine confiscated or taxed by the customs authorities who loomed at every border crossing.  There were five of us in a VW bug with 3 kids crammed in the back seat and several cases of wine in the diminutive trunk.  The bottles of burgundy and champagne clinked and rattled together as we bumped along the European countryside.  We made up a silly song: "Please Mr. Customs Man, Don't check our underwear too closely".  We thought that it was hysterically funny anyway...those were happy times!

Katie & the 
Soviet Navy!

In 1970 our family slipped behind the Iron Curtain, visiting Leningrad in the Soviet Union.  We saw the Tsar's grand Palace and fabulous gardens.  We went to a performance of Swan Lake (Katie loved ballet and modern dance).  We returned via train from Leningrad to Helsinki Finland.  On the train journey a Soviet submarine captain very nearly assaulted Katie -- a cute blonde American teenager at the time.  My father had to literally pull him off of her.  Katie's miniskirt was apparently too much of a temptation for the drunken sea captain.  Despite my father's ignorance of Russian, he had a conversation with the Soviet skipper and somehow managed to learn that his crew was dying of radiation poisoning.  Perhaps these and other events helped to solidify my sister's growing feminism.

Katie & Georgina & Nina loved birds
Sent her this image from the Everglades, FL in 2021
Heron or Ibis?  Katie would know!

Katie was the granddaughter of Georgina Van Rensselaer of Bedford New York.  She was the great granddaughter of Thomas Tileston Wells who wrote An Adventure in 1914 (  Georgina once told Katie that she combined "beauty, brains and breeding"!  Georgina and Katie and Nina shared a lifelong love of birds and nature.

Georgina Van Rensselaer
1902 - 1997
From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton

Katie met James Heath while both were working in Alaska at the Mount McKinley Park Hotel.  Jimmy was a lanky Montanan.  They fell in love and later married. Jimmy would instruct Katie in the joys of elk hunting and the beauty of Big Sky country.  They had three boys together...Schuyler, Sloane and Chance.  Katie was vociferously pro-choice; she was also a terrific loving mom to her three boys.

Katie was not entirely satisfied with her life as a homemaker in Montana.  She longed to build a business as our father Robert had done.  Katie got her chance creating a successful and pioneering Yoga business in Missoula Montana.  Her business acumen proved to be a blessing for her community where she was unfailingly generous.

Nina Van Rensselaer RIP
An Adventure from 1928 - 2020

When our aged mother Nina Van Rensselaer was ill (stroke, breast cancer, broken leg, dementia, etc.) it was Katie who took care of her.  Katie was a devoted daughter to the end.

Katy Trail
Runs 237 Miles through Missouri

Katie faced her final illness (brain cancer) with fortitude and courage.  In April 2021 I biked the 237 miles of the Katy Trail across the state of Missouri ( in her honor -- I sent her many photos of birds and flowers.  Broke three ribs on the final day when I fell off my bike!  Katie Heath died at her much-loved home in Missoula Montana in July 2021.  She was a loving sister who (God Bless Her!) was a regular reader of this blog.  I shall miss her terribly.

You can find signed copies of our books at these web sites...


Saturday, July 3, 2021

US Navy Seal Museum

Commander K at US Navy Seal Museum
Fort Pierce, Florida

The US Navy Seal Museum is located in Fort Pierce on the Atlantic coast of Florida (  During WW2 it was here in Fort Pierce in 1943 that Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs) began training for their incredibly dangerous mission of preparing the beaches at Normandy for the D-Day landings.  NCDUs were also employed in the Pacific theater where they became known as "MacArthur's frogmen".  Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs), often armed only with knives, swept onto the beaches of islands such as Iwo Jima and Okinawa on mobile flotation devices.  Their mission was to clear the beaches of obstacles and traps that had proved problematic in the landing on "Bloody Tarawa".  The astonishing bravery of these men provided an inspiration for the Navy Seals who followed in their footsteps.

Lt. John F. Kennedy

President Kennedy stumbled badly in his first days in the White House with the Bay of Pigs disaster.  In April 1961 CIA-supported Cuban exiles attempted to invade the island, seeking to depose Castro.  They were slaughtered and forced to surrender.  But the ashes of this failure were, perhaps, the genesis of the legendary US Navy Seals.  JFK, a US Navy combat veteran himself (PT-109 in the Solomon Islands), sought an unconventional weapon with which to combat Communism, particularly in Southeast Asia.  The fledgling US Navy Seals were first deployed in the riverine warfare of Vietnam where they became known as the "men with green faces" due to their use of camouflage paint and stealth tactics.

The Seals would see action during the Cold War in the 1983 invasion of Grenada and the 1989/90 invasion of Panama.  But it would really be after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War that the Seals would flourish in the covert Global War on Terror.  In the 21st century the US Navy Seals would see combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and even Pakistan.

In the Pakistan chapter of 2014's America Invades ( we wrote...

Operation Neptune Spear
US Navy Seal Museum
Fort Pierce, FL

"On May 1, 2011, four US helicopters flew from Jalalabad in Afghanistan to Abbottabad, Pakistan, on a mission aimed at Osama bin Laden. In spite of the crash of one stealth Black Hawk into the compound, Operation Neptune Spear was a near total success. Two Black Hawk helicopters carried USN SEALs to Osama’s secret compound. Two CH-47s carried extra fuel and additional forces. The SEALs relayed the code signal “Geronimo” back to the White House confirming that Osama bin Laden had been positively identified. Osama bin Laden, three other males, and one female were killed; there were no SEAL casualties.

The intelligence-gathering phase of this mission had required about ten years with several “enhanced interrogation” sessions along the way. The action phase of this invasion of Pakistan and the subsequent withdrawal lasted about four hours. No Pakistani military or civilians were killed in the raid.

Osama bin Laden
1957 - 2011

Osama’s body was identified with DNA methods and transported to the USS Carl Vinson. The burial was at sea in the north Arabian Ocean. Soon after the death of Osama was announced a crowd thronged around the White House chanting “USA, USA ...”

One of the MC-130E Combat Talon I planes that had been used when President Jimmy Carter ordered the disastrous Operation Eagle Claw to free American hostages in Iran was used to ferry SEAL Team Six to Kentucky for a congratulatory visit with President Obama. Navy SEAL Team Six received a Presidential Unit Citation—the highest unit award in the US military. President Obama credited the “countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals” who had labored for over a decade in three US administrations to achieve this result.

The urgent need to bring justice to the author of the 9/11 attacks had outweighed considerations about the violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty and our links with that country."  (


Rob "O'Neill is featured in our forthcoming 101 Fighting Celts: From Boudicca to MacArthur.  Here is an excerpt...

JFK & Frogman
US Navy Seal Museum
Fort Pierce, FL

"In January 1962, John F. Kennedy, the most Irish-Celtic president in American history, established the US Navy SEALs. SEAL stands for Sea Air Land. The SEAL program was an evolution of the US Navy frogmen of World War II.

SEALs would be a magnet for many future warriors of Celtic descent. For example, Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy was a US Navy SEAL who won a posthumous Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan in 2005. Rob O’Neill qualifies as the most famous SEAL to date. 

O’Neill forms the latest chapter in a tradition of Celtic snipers that stretches back over centuries. Private Patrick Murphy of Morgan’s Rifleman shot and killed British Brigadier General Simon Frasier in the Saratoga Campaign in 1777.

Rob O'Neill
AKA "The Shooter"

Rob O’Neill was born in 1976 in Butte, Montana. He attended Butte Central Catholic High School, graduating in 1994. O’Neill, a redhead, had been a college basketball player and was determined to become a Navy SEAL. He enlisted in the US Navy in 1995. He went through the challenging BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) program, enduring “Hell Week,” in Coronado, California, graduating in December 1996... 

Over the course of more than sixteen years, O’Neil completed four hundred combat missions. He earned numerous decorations, including two Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars with Valor, and three Presidential Unit Citations.

O’Neill participated in a rescue mission in Afghanistan that ultimately managed to bring Marcus Lutrell home—the lone survivor of a four-man SEAL unit. O’Neill was in numerous operations against IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) makers in Afghanistan and in Iraq. He went on many missions behind enemy lines in search of High Value Targets (HVTs).

In 2008, O’Neill was in pursuit of an HVT named Zabit Jalil, who was operating in Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan. O’Neill was a team leader directing SEALs and soldiers from the Afghan Army, when they got into a major gunfight with hundreds of Jalils’ forces. Badly outnumbered, O’Neill called for air support, which allowed for his teams’ safe extraction and caused numerous enemy casualties. For this action, O’Neill received his first Silver Star.  

Captain Phillips
Held by Somali pirates in 2009

In April of 2009, O’Neill was part of the team that was sent to rescue Captain Phillips from Somali pirates off the coast of Africa. Phillips was the captain of the Maersk Alabama, which had been seized by AK-47-wielding pirates in skiffs. Members of SEAL Team 6 on the USS Bainbridge managed to kill three pirates and save Captain Phillips, who was on a lifeboat bobbing in the sea. In an April 17 press conference on his return to Vermont, Phillips thanked the SEALs, describing them as “titans, impossible men doing impossible jobs.” 

Two years later, in the spring of 2011, O’Neill took a principal role in the killing of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. The operation was guided by the CIA, which had spent years tracking Osama’s couriers to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. O’Neill and members of SEAL Team Six spent weeks practicing for the raid at a military facility in North Carolina that simulated the compound. President Obama, who has Irish roots on his mother’s side,  authorized a covert mission to capture or kill the man that the CIA had identified as “The Pacer” on the theory that he was Osama bin Laden.

The enormous danger of this mission cannot be overemphasized. In his book The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior, O’Neill reveals that he wrote letters to his wife and two daughters, expecting that he and his fellow SEALs would perish on this mission. It would be, without a doubt, a perilous mission.  They would be invading a major regional military power, and bin Laden’s compound was only about one mile away from the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad.

On May 1, 2011, two modified Black Hawk helicopters and two CH-47s flew from Jalalabad in Afghanistan to Abbottabad, Pakistan, targeting the Pacer’s compound. In spite of the crash of one stealth Black Hawk into the compound, Operation Neptune Spear was a near total success. Osama bin Laden and his son, Khalid bin Laden, and three others were killed in the attack with no SEAL casualties. 

According to his account, O’Neill proceeded upstairs to the third floor of the compound, where bin Laden twice in the head. Photographs were taken, and one of Osama’s daughters confirmed the identity of the corpse. (It was later reconfirmed by DNA.) Computers and hard drives were seized, and the Black Hawk chopper that had crashed into the compound was rigged to explode. The entire operation on the ground took about forty minutes.    

The SEALs relayed a coded message to Admiral McRaven: “For God and country, Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo, EKIA” (Enemy Killed in Action), which was quickly communicated to the White House... 

In August 2012, O’Neill was honorably discharged from the US Navy. He was interviewed by Esquire magazine for an article about the raid, in which he was anonymously identified as “The Shooter.” O’Neill had no health care to provide for his family. 

In 2017, he published his book, The Operator ( That book remains controversial in the SEAL community, where concerns about operational security have created an ethos of secrecy in regard to disclosing any details regarding covert operations. O’Neill serves now as contributor for Fox News. He is a cofounder of Your Grateful Nation, an organization committed to helping Special Forces veterans transition to their next successful career."  Source: 101 Fighting Celts: From Boudicca to MacArthur.

US Navy Seal Trident
US Navy Seal Museum
Fort Pierce, FL


Commander Kelly says, "Remember our heroes and go check out the US Navy Seals Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida!"

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