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Jan-25-2013 13:09printcomments

Women Infantry in My Foxhole

I would welcome anybody...

Doctor Mary Walker, in the Civil War
Doctor Mary Walker, in the Civil War

(PORTLAND, OR) - This current big furor about women in combat is about the most ridiculous stuff I have ever read. They have been in every war, every place, since time began. Likewise, they have been in every American war since 1776. In this regard I posted, on December 4, 2010, in Salem-News.com, Women Veteran Suicides: Is this SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)?

Doctor Mary Walker, in the Civil War, was the first woman to receive the Medal of Honor for bravery. This was about the first time that American women, who served as doctors and nurses, were recognized as participants, but not considered combatants. After that they continued to serve the wounded, mangled and dying soldiers. That is tough duty even for men.

In World War Two in Italy, there were only front lines, and hospitals near the front were bombed by German artillery. Four nurses received Silver Stars for protecting their patients when their own bodies. Many nurses got six or more battle stars for different battles in various theaters. Sixty nurses were killed in battle action and 200 more from accidents or illness. Collectively, they received Silver Stars, Distinguished Service Medals, many Bronze Stars for Valor, Air Medals and numerous Purple Hearts. No one can deny the nurse's valorous service. They were usually closer to the front lines of battle than most of the male military who were far back of the lines in service companies or transportation companies supplying the needs of infantry, tankers, artillery and combat engineers.

The infantry, which suffered the worst casualties, 300 thousand killed, and about 600,000 wounded, were always short of "man power". My intelligence section started out with seven privates and ended up with just three. One of my worst nights was in a forward observation foxhole, all by myself, a mile in front of the front lines. I knew I couldn't survive. Any companion, male or female, would have been wholeheartedly welcome, but I was told there were none to spare. I think the guys "back of the front" were watching USO movies or drinking coffee and donuts with 'Donut Dollies' (Red Cross girls).

It is time to admit women volunteers to the infantry, tanks, artillery and engineers. I say this as a Combat Infantryman. When I had my draft board physical, about one third flunked out. Why is a mystery. In the infantry, about one third should not have been there in the first place. That left a small number of combat soldiers not only protecting themselves, but those who shouldn't have been close to the front lines.


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Anonymous January 26, 2013 6:55 pm (Pacific time)

Ralph Stone I read your article that you referenced, but frankly I just don't see how a survey of various women serving in different European military units is even remotely applicable to our country's combat MOS's. I can appreciate someone wanting all individuals to have an opportunity to apply for any position, but combat at arms is much different than flying various aircraft. Unit cohesion is another matter, and those who have served in elite combat units know of what I speak. You can list all kinds of women who have served in various positions in combat zones, but you will never find any woman that can become a member of an elite combat unit unless standards have been severely reduced. Have you combat infantry experience in a leadership role? I served during the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry platoon leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other’s laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.” The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades. Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade’s face. Yesterday the Joint Chiefs assure us the women will have privacy. Yeah, uh huh. Combat effectiveness is based in large part on unit cohesion. The relationships among members of a unit can be irreparably harmed by forcing them to violate societal norms. And that includes other social experiments foisted on combat infantry personnel.

Anonymous January 26, 2013 6:43 pm (Pacific time)

When women were first admitted to West Point, they fared poorly when running PT with the men (all had to run in combat boots). This proved to be a little embarrassing to those who pushed for the admission of women. This problem was solved by having the cadets run in sneakers rather than combat boots. That is what is meant by “gender-neutral standards.” Sadly the Joints Chiefs of Staff have devolved into politicaly correct careerists. They can no longer be viewed as the elite Warrior Council sworn to protect the nation. Armies disintegrate when common soldiers lose confidence in their leaders. I remember standing in two feet of muddy water in a bomb crater. Combat boots, flak jacket and helmet, otherwise stark naked, taking a bath. My buddy stood guard until we swapped and I guarded while he cleaned up. Now we will have to pack opaque shower curtains and His and Her signs along with our ammo, chow, spare batteries, frags, dry socks, etc. How many coed OPs and LPs will found with His and Her slit throats the next morning after their occupants were “distracted”. Where’s Dandy Don to sing, “Turn out the Lights, the Party’s Over”? This was a great country while it lasted.

Ralph E. Stone January 26, 2013 8:25 am (Pacific time)

See my article "A Woman's Place is in Combat too" (salem-news.com/articles/december142012/women-combat-rs.php)

Pete Yost January 25, 2013 2:59 pm (Pacific time)

As long as you do not reduce current standards that we have for infantry soldiers. If you are wounded, can the female soldier carry you out of harms way? If she gets pregnant, when does she leave the unit? I could go on and on, but having been in the infantry I just see this as more social experimentation designed to lower our standards. It is happening all throughout our society.

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