The Best Defense

Duane St. John remembers Frozen Chosin

Speaking of writing books, a few years ago I was privileged while speaking in Cazenovia, New York, to run into a veteran of the battle of Chosin Reservoir. Indeed, he was part of the relief column led by Lt. Col. Ray Davis that relieved the besieged Fox Company that was holding a key hilltop at a pass that was needed for the Marines to retreat and consolidate. In fact, he was wounded in that overnight march through the howling winter. In a memoir he has written, he recalls finding the Fox survivors, who were still fighting. "We stepped over and around hundreds of Chinese bodies surrounding their position," he writes. He began helping a Navy doctor, who soon was shot in the back and killed instantly. He notes that two members of Fox received Medals of Honor, as did Lt. Col. Davis.

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The Best Defense

General Mattis speaks: Don't think of vets as victims, do support U.S. involvement abroad and political compromise at home

There recently was a kerfuffle because General James Mattis, the retired Marine officer and aphorist, made some comments that seemed to some people to doubt the existence of PTSD.

So I wrote to the general to ask him for a copy of his remarks. He promptly responded, and here they are. Here also is a video of his talk, in which he improvises a bit.

I think his comments on PTSD got misinterpreted a bit. He wasn't saying that PTSD doesn't exist, he more was protesting the use of PTSD to portray vets as victims. He was telling them to be proud of their service.

On U.S. involvement in the world, he wrote in his prepared remarks that "American retreat is not a change that is welcome[d] by thoughtful elements."

On domestic politics, he wrote that in order for our government to function, we need compromise, which he called "a fundamental necessity at the heart of democratic government."

I always find General Mattis interesting and thoughtful. I still wish he had become the commandant. His defenestration at Centcom was I think the worst move the Obama administration has made in the area of military leadership. It was his ouster that made me stop and wonder what these people thought they were doing.

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