Where Have You Gone, Vinegar Joe?

Thoughts on the Profession of Arms
by Samuel Hux
(March 2016)

Only a very few years ago, from the time just after 9/11—I am confident of this generalization—there was no institution in the United States that enjoyed the nation’s respect to the degree that the American military did. Not a smidgin of the irony that the political class for instance, or the press for another, unintentionally invited. I can even recall hardened journalists and other unsentimental types confessing they felt they had missed something in their lives by never having been in uniform, never having experienced the profession of arms. Now? 2016? Well, that question is what drives these almost-but-not-quite random, but certainly serpentine, thoughts. Simon and Garfunkel sang “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you,” but I’m not sure this nation longs for the military greats of the past.  more>>>


3 Responses

  1. I have two treasured photos of Stillwell. One is from his personal records jacket, where he wore nothing but ill fitting pinks and four stars; no decorations, of which he had many. The other photo is one of “Vinegar Joe” and Merrill in the Burma jungle. Stillwell didn’t need to wear rank in the field. he led by example. Where have such officers gone, indeed.

  2. A comment on a comment: Donovan has more than photos. He has a magnificent essay I have just discovered thanks to Rebecca Bynum, in NER December 2010, “Vinegar Joe”–in which, among other things, he punctures the Petraeus myth. If I had read Donovan’s before I wrote my own essay, some of my points would have been sharper.

  3. Thanks, Sam. Although I doubt that I could improve on your essay. Stillwell was one of the rare souls who didn’t need praise or recognition to do a good job, he was a soldier’s soldier.

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