We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France


2019-2020 Military Classics Seminar Schedule

While my own schedule has changed to preclude much attendance, I’m still a big supporter….

Place: Athena Pallas Greek Restaurant

556 22nd Street, South, Arlington, VA 22202

Menu: Order from the regular menu

Schedule: 5:30 Gathering

6:30 Dinner

7:30 Discussion

Cost: $35

September 17, 2019
Hone, Trent. Learning War: The Evolution of Fighting Doctrine in the U.S. Navy, 1898-1945. 2018.

Speaker: Keith W. Bird, Chancellor-Emeritus, Kentucky Community and Technical College System

October 15, 2019
Appleman, Roy E. South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu. Washington, D.C., 1962.

Speaker: William M. Donnelly, U.S. Army Center of Military History

November 19, 2019
Hosler, John D. The Siege of Acre, 1189–1191: Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Battle That Decided the Third Crusade. 2018.

Speaker: Kelly DeVries, Professor of History, Loyola University Maryland

January 21, 2020
Gaddis, John Lewis. On Grand Strategy. 2018.

Speaker: Tom Keaney, senior fellow, Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins Univ, SAIS

February 18, 2020
Grant, Ulysses S. The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. The Complete Annotated Edition. Ed. John F. Marszalek et al. 2017.

Speaker: Christopher Hamner, Associate Professor, Dept. of History and Art History, George Mason University March 17, 2020

March 17, 2020
Ibrahim, Raymond. Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War Between Islam and the West. 2018.

Speaker: Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

April 21, 2020
du Picq, Charles Jean Jacques Joseph Ardant. Battle Studies. Translated and edited by Roger J. Spiller. 2017.

Speaker: Jennie Kiesling, Professor of History and Head Novice Rowing Coach, United States Military Academy

May 19, 2020
Bourque, Stephen Alan. Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France. 2018.

Speaker: Conrad Crane, Chief of Historical Services, US Army Heritage and Education Center

June 16, 2020
Julius Caesar, The Landmark Julius Caesar: The Complete Works: Gallic War, Civil War, Alexandrian War, African War, and the Spanish War. Kurt A. Raaflaub and Robert B. Strassler, eds. 2017.

Speaker: Joseph Frechette, Staff historian, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command



2018-2019 Military Classics Seminar Schedule

I’d fallen off on my attendance at the Military Classics Seminar, but if you’re a historian or military history aficionado, you should be attending these. They’ve changed the location of the meetings to the Athena Pallas Greek Restaurant (located at 556 22nd Street, South, Arlington, VA 22202) but the concept remains the same.

Each month, we gather to have a few drinks, enjoy dinner and hear someone give an oral review of a military history book. Some are classics, but some are more modern. Of course, the grandest benefit of attending is meeting your peers. There are military historians from every branch, authors of all kinds, retired military officers and interested amateurs like myself. Some of the greatest benefit to the meetings is the discussion between the attendees throughout the evening. It wanders across all periods of history, including sometimes dealing with personal experiences, and across all kinds of topics.

The dinners cost $35 and there’s a book raffle (I always put in an extra $5 and come away with a book a few times a year). We gather at 5:30pm for a social hour, followed by dinner at 6:30pm and the presentation at 7:30pm. There is some parking in the restaurant’s lot and some along neighboring streets.

Make your reservation no later than the Wednesday prior to the meeting by replying Eric Joyce at this e-mail address militaryclassics@gmail.com or to Bob Goldich by phone at (703) 359-1074. Pay for the meal with check or cash ($35) at the entrance to the meeting room. Those who make a reservation and do not show are still obligated for the cost of the dinner.

September 25, 2018 (one week delay because of Yom Kippur)

Parker, Geoffrey. The Thirty Years War. 1984.

Speaker: Kelly DeVries, Loyola University

October 16, 2018

Kuehn, John T. America’s First General Staff: A Short History of the Rise and Fall of the General Board of the Navy, 1900-1950. 2017.

Speaker: Edward J. Marolda, U.S. Naval Institute

November 20, 2018

Coox, Alvin D. Nomonhan: Japan Against Russia, 1939. 1985.

Speaker: Stuart Goldman, Scholar in Residence, National Council on Eurasian and East European Research

January 15, 2019

Corbett, Julian S. England in the Seven Years War: A Study in Combined Strategy. 1907.

Speaker: Randy Papadopoulos, Secretariat Historian, Department of the Navy

February 19, 2019

Travers, Timothy. The Killing Ground: The British Army, the Western Front, and the Emergence of Modern Warfare, 1900-1918. 1987.

Speaker: Bruce I. Gudmundsson, DPhil, Quantico, Virginia

March 19, 2019

Crane, Conrad C. Cassandra in Oz: Counterinsurgency and Future War. 2016.

Speaker: Shane Story, Director, General Histories Division, U.S. Army Center of Military History

April 16, 2019

Crist, David. The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty Year Conflict with Iran. 2012.

Speaker: Mark Reardon, Senior Historian, Histories Directorate, U.S. Army Center of Military History

May 21, 2019

Gross, Gerhard P. The Myth and Reality of German Warfare: Operational Thinking from Moltke the Elder to Heusinger. 2016.

Speaker: Bianka Adams, Historian, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

June 18, 2019

Neiberg, Michael. Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I. 2013.

Speaker: Brian F. Neumann, Historian, Contemporary History Division, U.S. Army Center of Military History



Three Armies on the Somme

The next Military Classics Seminar (18 April 2017) will feature a review of William Philpott’s Three Armies on the Somme: The First Battle of the Twentieth Century, by David Silbey, Professor and Associate Director at Cornell University in Washington. You have 8 days to read it!

If you’ve not attended the seminars before, you’re truly missing out. Each month (minus some summer months and December), either a member or a guest speaker provides and oral review of a military classic or a recent book of note. Discussions both precede and follow the commentary by the speaker. There’s dinner and a bar, so no one goes hungry or thirsty. The opportunity to discuss military history and rub elbows with a variety of historians is worth considerably more than the nominal $35 cost for the dinner. It’s held at the Fort Myer Officer’s Club and we gather at 5:30pm, with dinner served at 6:30pm and the talk starting around 7:30pm. The dinners are always good, but this month is special, as the dessert is pecan pie!

Contact Co-Secretary Eric Joyce via email: militaryclassics -at- gmail.com to make your reservation.


I also wanted to pass along the upcoming speakers and events at the University Club’s Military History Legion. I’ve not yet attended, but will likely circle July 11th, since Kevin Hymel doesn’t talk enough about Patton for me to have my fill….

Dinner is afterward, but there is an $18.00 open bar – Wine, beer, soft drinks and complimentary popcorn to hold you over during the talk.

All events are at the University Club: 1135 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, Phone: 202 862-8800. You may also join us for dinner with the speaker afterward. Non-members may use credit cards or cash for dinner. Business attire (no jeans). Valet parking available: $12 for 2 hrs, $17 for 2+ hrs; some metered parking nearby but may run until 10 pm!

Questions? Contact Margaret Stoltz: mstoltz -at- universityclubdc.com. or Jeff Gibbs: tigrejj -at- aol.com

May 16, 2017 (Tues) – “China’s Quest for Great Power” by CAPT. Bud Cole USN (ret) will explain China’s naval expansion, and its linkage to the pursuit of secure energy sources and Chinese foreign policy, both globally and in an Asian context; in a presentation that we hope will be in time to anticipate pending developments in the South China Sea.

June 8, 2017 (Thurs) – “Playing War: Wargaming WW II in the Pacific” by John Lillard, will discuss the history and nature of wargaming and how the wargames conducted by the Naval War College allowed the US Navy to foresee the course of the battle for the Pacific during WW II.

June 20, 2017 (Tues) – “Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk” by MGen. Bob Scales USA(r), who will illustrate how, through the experience of recent conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, our adaptive enemies learned how to defeat American technology, and why a resurgence of neglected Army and Marine small units is now required.

July 11, 2017 (Tues) – “Patton’s Way: A Radical Theory of War” by Kelly Morningstar, who will describe Gen. George Patton’s radical doctrine of war, developed over decades, that contradicted official Army doctrine but led to brilliant successes such as his breakout from the Normandy pocket that shattered German resistance and liberated Paris.

August 24, 2017 (Thurs) – “The Great Siege – Malta 1565” by Jeff Gibbs, about one of the most celebrated but now neglected events of the period: the dramatic, desperate siege of Malta, where the Knights and the Maltese people heroically crushed the myth of Turkish invincibility.



Iwo Veteran poses and reminisces

During the reunion for the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, I had the chance to meet Norman L. Baker.

Veteran posing with Thompson SMG in front of map of Iwo Jima

Norman Baker of the security element for HQ Company, 62nd Naval Construction Battalion, attached to Fifth Amphibious Corps

Norm served in the Sea Bees (Naval Construction Battalions) during World War II, but Norm wasn’t a skilled laborer like most of the men in the Sea Bees. He was just a young guy and assigned as part of the security detachment for Headquarters Company, 62nd Naval Construction Battalion. The battalion was attached to the Fifth Amphibious Corps, so he landed on Iwo Jima to provide security for the engineers and tradesmen.

Unlike Marines in the line, this ended up allowing him some opportunities for ‘wandering’. He told me of his fascination with airplanes, especially fighter planes. As soon as the airfields were “secured” enough that they could risk basing planes there, they did. So, Norm had a chance to get up close and personal with the planes. He related that one time, a fighter plane taxied off the runway and the pilot hopped down when he was nearby. The pilot was a young red-headed fellow, probably right about Norm’s age and was thrilled to be able to show him everything there was to know about the plane. It’s a thrill he still remembers. When he went back a few days later to see if he could find his new friend, Norm was told he wasn’t there anymore. One hopes that the pilot was merely injured or reassigned, but I can’t help but imagine that he was among the thousands who paid with their lives for the Marines to secure Iwo Jima.

Due to the proximity of the National Museum of the Marine Corps and the high profile of the event, several docents from the museum were in attendance and brought along some artifacts. When Norm was on Iwo Jima, he carried a Thompson Submachine Gun, as he is here in the photo. It was just happenstance that I saw him drift over and ask the docents if he could hold the gun. So, we all got some nice shots of Norm posing in front of the map they’d brought from the museum.20160220_151905

Attending these reunions is always among the highlights of my year because there’s such an opportunity to meet and mingle with some wonderful veterans, their families, historians and Marines of every era. Importantly, never forget the Sea Bees!



Change to Dragoon/Colmar Schedule

There’s been a big change for the Dragoon/Colmar event this week. On Friday morning, we’ll be attending the Spirit of America show at George Mason University instead of conducting the third historical seminar session. That third session will now occur from 2-6pm that day.

18 Sept: 9 AM to 1:30 PM Spirit of American show at George Mason University
2 PM to 6PM Historical seminar III

Full schedule available on the 6th Army Group website



2015-2016 Military Classics Seminar Schedule

As I’ve noted before, I stumbled upon the Military Classics Seminar about a year ago and it’s the group I’ve been looking for the last twenty years. Each month, we gather in the Officers’ Club at Fort Myer to have a few drinks, enjoy dinner and hear someone give an oral review of a military history book. Some are classics, but some are more modern. Of course, the grandest benefit of attending is meeting your peers. There are military historians from every branch, authors of all kinds, retired military officers and interested amateurs like myself. Some of the greatest benefit to the meetings is the discussion between the attendees throughout the evening. It wanders across all periods of history, including sometimes dealing with personal experiences, and across all kinds of topics.

The dinners cost $35 and there’s a book raffle (I always put in an extra $5 and come away with a book a few times a year). We gather at 5:30pm for a social hour, followed by dinner at 6:30pm and the presentation at 7:30pm. To get onto Fort Myer, you need to use the Hatfield Gate unless you have a military ID. They will do an ID check and a routine inspection of your vehicle.

Make your reservation no later than the Wednesday prior to the meeting by replying Eric Joyce at this e-mail address militaryclassics@gmail.com or to Bob Goldich by phone at (703) 359-1074. Pay for the meal with check or cash ($35) at the entrance to the meeting room at Ft. Myer. Those who make a reservation and do not show are still obligated for the cost of the dinner.

2015-2016 Schedule

September 15, 2015

Overy, Richard. The Bombing War: Europe, 1939-1945. 2013.

Speaker: Walton Moody, Retired Historian

October 20, 2015

Saburō Ienaga, The Pacific War, 1931-1945: A Critical Perspective on Japan’s Role in World War II. 1978.

Speaker: Stan Falk, Independent Historian

November 17, 2015

Conger, Arthur. The Rise of U.S. Grant. 1931.

Speaker: Perry Jamieson, Independent Historian

January 19, 2016

Carl von Clausewitz, On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815. Transl. & ed. by Christopher Bassford, Daniel Moran, and Gregory W. Pedlow. 2010.

Speaker: Jon Sumida, Professor of History, University of Maryland, College Park

February 16, 2016

Daddis, Gregory A. Westmoreland’s War: Reassessing American Strategy in Vietnam. 2014.

Speaker: Erik Villard, Historian, U.S. Army Center of Military History

March 15, 2016

Hodges, Andrew. Alan Turing: The Enigma. 2014.

Speaker: Michael Bigelow, Command Historian, U.S. Army INSCOM

April 19, 2016

Dual selection: Alistair Horne, The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916. 1961, rev. ed. 1994, and Paul Jankowski, Verdun. 2014.

Speaker: Robert Goldich, Independent Historian

May 17, 2016

Katherine C. Epstein, Torpedo: Inventing the Military-Industrial Complex in the United States and Great Britain. 2014.

Speaker: Mark Mandeles, President, The J. de Bloch Group

June 21, 2016

Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History. 2013.

Speaker: Ron Spector, Prof. of History and International Relations; George Washington University



Iwo Jima Association Reunion 2015

The Iwo Jima Association of America is holding it’s 70th Reunion and Symposium on 18-22 February 2015 at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel. It’s always a magnificent event, with the opportunity to mix with Iwo Jima veterans, active duty and retired Marines, descendants and historians.

The base schedule is:

18 February – Registration (2-6pm) and welcome reception (6-8pm)

19 February – Ceremonies in DC/Arlington (8am-3:30pm) and a hospitality evening (6-8pm)

20 February – National Museum of the Marine Corps tour (8am-3:30pm) and Show & Tell (6-8pm)

21 February – Symposium and Panel Discussion (8:30am-3:30pm), Luncheon (noon-1pm, with a briefing by a senior Marine representative), reception (5-6pm, cash bar) and Banquet (6-11pm)

22 February – Farewells and departures

I can’t say enough about how well-run and well-attended this event is. As the touchstone event in the history of the Marine Corps, senior Marine leadership is actively in attendance and support. The Commandant will be the guest of honor at the Banquet and one of the top-level officers will speak at the luncheon. I have to admit that meeting and getting my photo with General Mattis two years ago was a true highlight. There are always several authors in attendance, selling and signing their books. They also usually have both a raffle and a silent auction to help support the organization. The band for the Banquet is our favorite big band, Radio King Orchestra, who do swing better than anyone else (and donate their time for this performance).

You MUST register by the 21st of January to ensure your space. After that, it is ‘space available’. Registration can be done online or by mail. In either case, best to download the event brochure, which details the schedule and provides the mail-in registration form.




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