War Stories

Keep Your Feet Dry

By Callie Oettinger | 8 Comments

It was time to air out. The men sat down to remove their boots and socks. Their feet were wet. Their socks were wet. Their boots were wet.

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War Stories Become Prologue

By Callie Oettinger | 1 Comment

It was 1961 and Dwight Eisenhower was still going back to that game in 1912—West Point v. Carlisle. West Point and Carlisle were winning teams. One featured two future generals—Eisenhower and Omar Bradley—and the other featured all-around athlete and gold-medal-winning Olympian Jim Thorpe and the now-legendary Coach Pop Warner.

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Today’s Boys: Tomorrow’s Warriors

By Callie Oettinger | 5 Comments

They were “just boys” or “babies” or “young.” Often in war stories, it is the men who are at battle, but the boys who go to war. Those deciding and those fighting are men and boys, as are those leaving and those returning home. Lieutenant General Samuel Vaughan Wilson, retelling a Civil War story told to him as a child, by his “Auntie Mamie,” who spent much of the Battle of Saylers Creek “crouched on a pile of last fall’s potatoes there on the floor of the basement” in Lockett House, which was in the middle of the battle, and…

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War Is ?

By Callie Oettinger | 7 Comments

Wars—and the ways they are remembered and shared—are unique. There is no one experience—from the child watching it on the news to the service member fighting within it. “The war is what A.D. is elsewhere: they date from it.”

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SOB

By Callie Oettinger | 1 Comment

S+O+B=Three letters that appear in almost every war story, in the same order, but with dozens of different meanings. SOB=Love and Respect

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Crackpot, Problem Child, Great Fighting Leader Revisited

By Callie Oettinger | 5 Comments

War Stories is taking the day off and will be back next week. For now, here’s a re-run of a post that ran August 29th. One of these things is not like the others:

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What Would Will Durant Write Today?

By Callie Oettinger | 5 Comments

They tried to sift out the best from the mass of existing manuscripts, and to guide the reading of the people; they made lists of “best books,” the “four heroic poets,” the “nine historians,” the “ten lyric poets” the “ten orators,” etc. Every time I open Will Durant’s The Life of Greece, a smile yanks at the corners of my lips.

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Why Fight, Part II: I Like It and I’m Good At It

By Callie Oettinger | 7 Comments

The special forces operator told me the children in Afghanistan need him more than his own kids. My gut reaction: Tell him he’s off his rocker. His kids need him, too. But then he explained that the kids in Afghanistan needed someone to fight for them. His wife was strong and could do that for their children in the United States, but he wanted to go fight for other children around the world—the ones who didn’t have someone. He liked it and he was good at it.

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Why Fight?

By Callie Oettinger | 11 Comments

When asked why he battled, Audie Murphy replied, “They were killing my friends.” Throughout history, as seen in fiction and non-fiction writing, the reasons for fighting are often much simpler than the wars being fought. Country, family, friends, self-preservation are often the reasons. The following are excerpts from different books and papers, on why different people/groups have fought through the years.

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A Letter from Lawrence of Arabia

By Steven Pressfield | 9 Comments

The piece below comes not from Seven Pillars of Wisdom or from the David Lean movie or from Michael Korda’s wonderful new book, Hero. It’s from a letter written by T.E. Lawrence during the WWI revolt in the Arabian desert, when he led what the British called “Bedouin irregulars” against the Turks. Alas, I can’t recall the date of the letter or the circumstances of its writing or even the person it was written to. I cut it out and saved it as an example of vivid, immediate, riveting prose. I used to copy these two paragraphs over and over…

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