Archive for the ‘Military’ Category





Excerpts from Chapter 8, “Freedom Is Not Free,” from A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0966585550/):

The first shipload of American war dead from Europe, more than five thousand caskets, arrived in New York City in October 1947. They had left from the dock-filled city of Antwerp, Belgium, which was the primary port for the deceased of that zone in Europe. General Lucius Clay, United States Military Governor in Germany and Chief of the European Command (EUCOM), paid homage to them before the flower-bedecked USAT Joseph V. Connolly slowly left port on October 5. On that day, wherever the American flag flew over U.S. installations in Europe, it was at half-staff.

Preceding the ship’s departure, my father’s office [the American Graves Registration Command in Paris] sent a list of the deceased by air courier to the Quartermaster General’s Office in Washington.

In a letter to us, my father explained the reason for this expediency:  “The list enables those families to be contacted and also permits arrangements to be made for subsequent transportation of the deceased within the United States.” He added that the same procedure would be followed for later shipments.

Mother received a tentative date right after New Year’s Day for our voyage to Bremerhaven. My father wrote that he had arranged a mid-February departure for us, which meant that we would need to begin preparing right away for our trip.

Preparations included arranging for the furniture to be put in a storage warehouse that Dad had selected and packing those items we thought we would need in Europe.

      Additionally, we had to go to the army medical center at the Pentagon for our inoculations.

     “I think we’re supposed to turn left here,” my mother said hesitantly after we had made a few wrong turns while trying to find our way through the maze of corridors to the Pentagon’s medical office. According to my diary entry for that day, my shots included smallpox and typhoid vaccines. Afterwards we visited the huge cafeteria for lunch.  

     In February, we packed our remaining belongings and left Cathedral Avenue behind us.

A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham is available at the link below.




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Excerpts from Chapter 8, “Freedom Is Not Free,” of A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham:

My parents made a plan that seemed workable. My father would leave in May for Europe, as scheduled. In July, Mother would give Howie a big sendoff to West Point, which he would enter as a freshman. I would finish my sophomore year of high school at the end of December. “Jeanie and I can spend Christmas with Howie at West Point,” Mother told Dad, “and then join you early in the new year.” My brother’s lowly plebe (freshman) status required that he and the other members of his class not leave the Academy for the holidays.

Howie had been overjoyed when he first received news of his West Point appointment, and my father was delighted that his son would be attending his alma mater and following in his footsteps.

Mother, however, had mixed feelings about it. The World War II photographs and newsreels that showed young officers leading their men on the battlefields of Europe and Asia, where they risked and often lost their lives, were still too fresh in her mind. My mother’s fears for her son, who would be commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation, were intensified when she received my father’s first long letter to us, which came in the mail soon after his arrival in France. More than ever before, she thought about all the mothers who had lost their sons during wartime. After Memorial Day had passed, which of course had been solemnly observed in our area at Arlington National Cemetery, my father wrote us details about the Memorial Day ceremony in which he had participated at Hamm Cemetery, located in the wooded hills three miles east of the city of Luxembourg.

My father was in charge of this ceremony and others like it all over Europe that day, so he was gratified that everything had gone so smoothly.

He was even more pleased that the people of Luxembourg had shown their gratitude to the U.S. Army for liberating them from the Nazis, evidenced by the presence of a large crowd and the many bouquets of beautiful flowers placed at the gravesites.  To provide us with more details, my father also sent us a phonograph record containing his radio address to the United States from Luxembourg on that Memorial Day, which was broadcasted after the ceremony. Although his address was intended for all Americans, it was particularly aimed towards those citizens whose loved ones had died in the European Theater. After being introduced by Henry Cassidy, a commentator with NBC, my father spoke in a clear, strong voice.

My book, A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham, contains the text of his entire speech as well as the one given by Grand Duchess Charlotte, whose speech followed his. At the conclusion of her speech, Mr. Cassidy said: “Americans at home are now being consulted as to whether the bodies will be left here or returned to America. If they are to go home, General Peckham’s command will take them in full dignity. If they remain here, the people of the Grand Duchess will be honored to watch over them. Either way, those of us who observed today’s ceremony are sure they are in good hands. This is Henry Cassidy in Luxembourg.”

      An announcer then closed the broadcast by saying:  “NBC has presented Memorial Day Overseas, with Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, Brigadier General Howard Peckham, Henry Cassidy, and Paul Archinard of NBC’s overseas staff. This is NBC, the National Broadcasting Company.”

A Salute to Patriotism is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0966585550/ 

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The following are excerpts from Chapter 4, “Old and New Kentucky Homes,” from A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham

Another decisive victory for the U.S. Navy, following on the heels of its success at the Battle of Midway, was its defeat of the Japanese during the Battle of Guadalcanal. This operation, which ended in early January, had been under the command of Admiral Chester Nimitz. It provided an optimistic beginning to the new year. “Many senior officers, from all branches of the armed forces, aren’t planning strategy on the battlefields of Europe or commanding operations in the Pacific,” Dad told Mother and me one late-winter day. “They’re working behind the scenes in Washington, often in cramped, temporary office buildings.”

The temporary buildings in which government offices did their work were in various places in Washington—near Fort McNair, on the Washington Mall, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, along Constitution Avenue, and in the grassy areas surrounding the Washington Monument. The Pentagon had been constructed, but occupants were moving in slowly.

      Dad’s remarks were prophetic, because he was soon to become part of that harried Washington lifestyle. In the spring of 1943 he was ordered to report to the Fuels and Lubricants Division, a newly formed division of the Quartermaster General’s office.

For the first few months on the job, he would serve as deputy director of the division, commuting between Washington and Hopkinsville.

His change in assignment coincided with the end of the war in North Africa. American troops had steadily made big gains after their defeat at Kasserine Pass in February 1943. One occurrence that helped them was that hundreds of British Matilda tanks and American Sherman tanks had been able to push back the smaller force of German Panzers.

Dad, who at the start of the desert campaign was concerned that the power and weight of the Panzers would place the lighter Shermans at a disadvantage, was relieved that the large number of Allied tanks used in the campaign made up for their smaller size.

The Allies defeated Axis forces in Tunisia in May 1943, thus spelling the end of Hitler’s dream of access to the Suez Canal. Uncle Bob Shaw, who was serving with the 3rd Infantry Division in North Africa that spring, saw firsthand the downfall of Rommel’s troops, as he writes in Shaw Clan: “What a sight as the Africa Corps surrendered by marching their units, without guards, under their officers, to the POW camps.”

Considering the discipline Rommel had enforced on his elite corps, it’s not surprising that they surrendered in such a disciplined and controlled way.

When the war later progressed to France, Rommel would again be a force to reckon with, along with German Panzer and Tiger tanks. In Italy, to which Bob’s division proceeded next, Mussolini was politically defeated on July 24, 1943, in the Italian Council, prompting Victor Emmanuel III to order his arrest. This event ended the Rome-Berlin Axis and the power of Italy’s Fascist regime, but it did not put an end to the fighting, in which Uncle Bob’s 3rd Infantry Division would soon be heavily involved.

When our moving day approached, Dad ruefully told me we couldn’t bring our cat, Willie. Noticing the onset of my tears, he said, “We’ll make sure he gets a good new home.” Like fish propelled forward in a river, thousands of workers had been swept to Washington, so it would take us time to find a place to live.

The day before we left, a carload of soldiers came up the driveway to pick up Willie, and a bit later we learned that our cat had become a mascot of their unit. I felt much better. Soon thereafter, we drove away from a friendly small town and towards a city where newcomers lived in anonymity.

[Click on the following Amazon site to learn more about A Salute to Patriotism and read some pages from the book:


1942 Uncle Bob (my mother’s half-brother), who would become a well-decorated officer of the 3rd Infantry Division, and wife Bunny before he left for Africa: 1942

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Excerpts from Chapter 4, “Old and New Kentucky Homes,” from A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham:

The year 1942 brought significant morale boosters to American armed forces. In April a successful raid on Tokyo, conducted by then-Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, proved that Japan was not immune from American air strikes. It also partly avenged the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor of December 1941.

More morale boosters were yet to come. In early June 1942, American naval and air forces were victorious in the Battle of Midway, an island in the central Pacific. This success proved to be a turning point in the war, since the United States and its allies could now be on the offensive against Japan’s navy rather than on the defensive, as they had been heretofore.

In November, welcome news came to Dad’s office at 12th Armored Division Headquarters concerning North Africa. British and American forces had arrived in Algeria, and the Western Task Force, headed by George S. Patton, had landed safely in Morocco. Also in November, the British, under the command of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, successfully launched an offensive at El Alamein, Egypt, which forced the German troops to travel westward, away from Egypt.

The heavy responsibility for succeeding in the overall Allied North African engagement, called Operation Torch, had fallen on the able shoulders of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who commanded all the sea, air, and land forces involved in the operation.
Camp Campbell, Kentucky, 1942

Brigadier General Howard L. Peckham: Camp Campbell, Kentucky, 1942

The second edition of A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham was published in May 2011 and  is available at Amazon. Click the following link to look inside the book:


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My father (second from right) and the other Camp Campbell generals (Brewer, second from left and Newton, third from left) turn to greet the visiting General Jacob L. Devers.

My father (second from right) and the other Camp Campbell generals (Brewer, second from left and Newton, third from left) turn to greet the visiting General Jacob L. Devers.

The following are excerpts from Chapter 4, “Old and New Kentucky Homes,” from A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham: 

      I didn’t know anything about the large German Panzer tanks in Europe about which my father had once expressed concern, and I had certainly never seen one.  I did see Sherman tanks, however. One day I stood very close to one that was on display at Fort Knox, and I recall feeling dwarfed by its big treads and complex-looking weaponry.

      As fate would have it, I would never sit in one of those tanks again. Howard Peckham’s stellar performance during an intensive one-month course at the Armored Force School brought about a change in his assignment. One evening in early July 1942 he told us he had received orders to report to Camp Campbell later that month. My mother’s response to the news was unexpectedly dramatic.

      “Oh, no!” she sobbed, while pressing her head firmly against a wall in the stairway. She was still in the process . . ., and we had lived at Fort Knox for only three months. This was one of the few times I ever saw her cry when told we would be moving. “I’m sorry, dear,” Dad said sympathetically, “During wartime, officers are sent where the need for their leadership is the greatest.”  Feeling the determination to behave like a gallant army wife, my mother gradually regained her composure and began to pack. 

      In late July 1942, our furniture was again loaded into a huge van, and I started wondering what my future school might be like.

      We had moved to Fort Knox near the end of the school year, so I didn’t attend classes there. I had enjoyed the vacation, though. For one thing, I always looked forward to the arrival of a bakery truck that came to our cul-de-sac twice a week to deliver newly baked bread and sugary cinnamon rolls. I was unhappy when these treats ended.

Back at Fort Benning, our previous post, other officers’ wives—many of them wives of senior officers—were having to make big adjustments.

For example, in August, General Crittenberger assumed command of III Armored Corps (later called XIX Corps) at Camp Polk, Louisiana.

During the following year, General Crittenberger left for assignments in England and then in Italy, the latter of which had more than its share of danger. Josephine (his wife) undoubtedly felt an enormous strain while her husband was serving there—not only was he leading the IV Corps during its many days of fighting north from Rome and across the River Po, but their son, Townsend, was in combat in the European Theater at the same time.

Tragically, Townsend did not survive the war.  In Italy . . .

Like his job at Fort Knox, Howard Peckham’s assignment at Camp Campbell, a relatively new army installation (now called Fort Campbell), was in Kentucky. We would still be living in a pretty bluegrass state noted for its horse ranches, but the Camp had no available houses for dependents. Therefore, we would have to live in one of the nearby small towns.

No longer would we have quarters on a typical army post.An army post was structured and efficient, a place where straight-backed uniformed men and women, who looked as if they had ramrods attached to their spines, walked at a quick pace on sidewalks located . . .

Nevertheless, the move was quite advantageous as far as my father’s career was concerned. In late August, he received a promotion to brigadier general. He had accumulated an impressive array of complimentary efficiency reports from his superiors over the years, so gaining a star was a well-deserved step up the career ladder.

Other good news was that my parents found an attractive place to live in Hopkinsville, a town sixteen miles north of Camp Campbell. Named for Samuel Hopkins, a Revolutionary War soldier and pioneer, Hopkinsville was caught up in the patriotic spirit of the times. Several of its residents offered to share their homes with army families, and Dad found one prospect especially appealing.

After showing my parents their property, the owners, Robert and Frances Fairleigh, invited us to move in with them. My parents gladly accepted, and soon thereafter we began to unpack the few items we had with us. My bedroom was tiny, as was my brother’s, but my parents at least had a large bedroom-sitting room combination, where we spent much of our time. Our own furniture, which had always traveled with us to our far-flung temporary homes, was placed in storage.

At first, it seemed strange to me that we were “boarding” in someone else’s house, but at least, I reasoned, we were living on an old, charming mini-estate with its own distinctive name: Fairlelond.

The property’s grounds were vast and filled with flower gardens and vegetable patches, and I’ve never forgotten the taste of large ripe tomatoes we picked and ate right off the vine. A favorite four-legged playmate of mine, who stayed in a backyard doghouse much of the time, was the Fairleigh family’s rambunctious setter, Lady, who produced a large litter of puppies during our stay. Also in attendance was the frisky black and white short-haired cat my brother and I acquired, named Willie.  Best of all, Robert and Frances Fairleigh were to become lifelong friends of our family.

For many soldiers assigned to the 12th Armored Division, activated at Camp Campbell in September 1942, training was so rugged that they had little energy for socializing.   Their days consisted of long marches and endless combat exercises. “When the sun shines, dust unmercifully flies into their eyes,” Dad said about their environment, “and when it rains, they have to trek through deep mud.”

The commander of the 12th Armored Division then was Major General Carlos B. Brewer. When General Jacob Devers paid a visit (shown in the photo at the top of the page and in A Salute to Patriotism), Dad and the two other 12th Armored Division generals greeted his plane, gave him a tour, and updated him about the division’s progress. 

Dad’s main task was to ensure that the division received training to prepare it well for its inevitable participation in battle. Learning how to load armored vehicles for sea transport, how to communicate in a tank environment, how to perform armor tactics were necessary components of armored warfare training.

The second edition of A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham was published in May 2011. Click on the link below to see the table of contents and other pages.


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The following are excerpts from Chapter 4, “Old and New Kentucky Homes,” of  A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham

During the early months of 1942, the Philippines, a country Howard Peckham had gotten to like and know very well as a young lieutenant, suffered from one capitulation after another.

      After General MacArthur left the Philippines and found safety in Australia, President Roosevelt ordered Jonathan Wainwright to succeed him as the commander of the American and Filipino forces. Then-Lieutenant General Wainwright took on this task with courage and hoped that fate would treat him well. Success was impossible to achieve, however. Only a few weeks later, he wrote these words to Douglas MacArthur from Corregidor, “We have done our best, both here and on Bataan.”

The next day, May 6, 1942, he surrendered to the Japanese.

      He was then held in prison camps for three years, during which he lived in squalor and a state of near-starvation. Those years were agonizing for his wife, Adele Wainwright, who worried about him unceasingly. I knew a little bit about the Philippines already then, primarily because of the two brass containers that went with us from home to home.“They’re called chow pots,” my father explained to me one day. “After meats, fish, and other foods were cooked, Filipino people could sit in a circle, reach into the pot, and help themselves.”

In the spring of 1942 Dad received new orders. So, at the end of May, our chow pots and other household goods were packed and placed in a large van.

      We then left Fort Benning. In our four-door sedan, Dad drove us on scenic narrow roads adjacent to the budding fruit trees of Georgia, the hills and dales of Tennessee, and finally the lovely blue-green pastures of Kentucky. Our destination was Fort Knox, named after George Washington’s chief of artillery.

At Fort Knox, my father had an important role to play in an expanding and highly mechanized force known simply as the American Armored Force. At that time, then-Major General Jacob L. Devers commanded the Force. At his Fort Knox headquarters, he was responsible for expanding the Force, which he had commanded at that post since August 1941. Sixteen armored divisions were eventually created under the Armored Force.

Howard Peckham was assigned as Chief of Staff of the 8th Armored Division, which been activated at Fort Knox in April 1942, only a month before our arrival. Here the division trained officers and enlisted men from other divisions, as well as its own troops.

My father’s experience as Assistant Chief of Staff of the 2nd Armored Division  prepared him well for this new assignment. His goal was to help bring the 8th Armored Division  to a prominent standing among the divisions.

During the early weeks of its formation, it was jointly commanded by two men—Thomas J. Camp and Robert W. Grow—who were both brigadier generals at the time. “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

The second edition of A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham, published in May 2011. Click this link to look inside the book:


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(above) The staff of Gen. Crittenberger (middle):  Maurice Rose, Chief of Staff (far left); Howard L. Peckham, Assistant Chief of Staff (far right); Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. (second from the right, standing) (below) Generals Patton and Crittenberger at Ft. Benning, 1942

Photo: Gen. Crittenberger and staff: Maurice Rose, far left; Howard Peckham, far right; Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., second from right standing, Ft. Benning, 1942:

The Second Edition of A Salute to Patriotism was published in May 2011. Click here to look inside the book:


Excerpts from Chapter 3, “Clouds Over Leavenworth and Benning,” of A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham

      During the early weeks of 1941, Irwin Rommel’s successes against the British in North Africa caused concern among 2nd Armored Division officers at Ft. Benning, especially after the British started dubbing the sly German commander “the desert fox.”  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, armored warfare became more and more a topic of discussion among my father and other officers of the division.  Would the U.S. Army’s Sherman tanks perform well when matched against the Germans’ heavy Panzers? Only time would tell.

In January 1942, General Patton, who had risen to the rank of two-star general, left Fort Benning for a new assignment.

     The general’s leadership expertise had impressed the army’s Chief of Staff George Marshall, who ordered him to command the Desert Training Center in California.  There, in thousands of sand-covered acres about thirty miles east of Indio, he was placed in charge of troops from several armored divisions, who would be trained to perform tactical maneuvers in a hot and arid desert environment. The harsh exercises, such as being forced to run for several miles in the sun while carrying rifles and wearing full backpacks, were needed to prepare the troops to face the hot desert of North Africa—and the Germans.  Willis Crittenberger, then a brigadier general, replaced Patton as commander of the 2nd Armored Division.

As Assistant Chief of Staff, then-Lieutenant Colonel Howard Peckham worked closely with Willis Crittenberger and his Chief of Staff, then-Lieutenant Colonel Maurice Rose.

          Maurice Rose had risen to the rank of major general during World War II when he was  killed  by German gunfire. He is buried at the American cemetery in the Netherlands.

General Ctittenberger, who had the chiseled features of his Teutonic forebears, lost two sons in battle: Townsend, a corporal, during WWII in Europe; Dale, a colonel, during the Vietnam War. They are buried at Arlington Cemetery near their parents.

Click the Amazon logo below to download your Kindle copy of A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham:

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My father (third from left, second row) and some classmates at Command and General Staff School: Ft. Leavenworth, 1940

Howard L. Peckham spent his pre-World War II days serving his country in the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, the branch into which he was commissioned upon graduation from West Point in 1918. His work took him to various locations, including the Philippines, West Point (where he was an engineering instructor), Cleveland, Puerto Rico, Florida, and New York.

Excerpts from Chapter 3, “Clouds Over Leavenworth and Benning” of A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham:

In 1939, when my father’s work as Deputy Administrator of the WPA (under Brehon B. Somervell) in New York City ended, we moved to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, where he attended the prestigious Command & General Staff School.  In February 1940, he graduated from the school and would soon be a part of an expanding U.S. Army. Under the guidance of Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, the army was increasing its membership, modernizing its equipment, and starting to prepare its troops for combat.

More and more officers would be needed to fill leadership roles. This caused a rumor to spread in officers’ clubs throughout the United States that Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, would soon become the location of massive war maneuvers.

That rumor turned out to be true. One of the participants in those realistic games of war was my dad. His three months in Louisiana serving with the 21st Engineers involved intensive training for a leadership position in a combat environment, precipitated by the storm of events in Europe and Asia. The War Department ordered more than sixty-five thousand troops from various divisions and regiments of the U.S. Army to join this massive training operation. Tanks and other equipment lined the wide highways, and soldiers marched through busy towns and open fields. Occasionally, soldiers rode atop mule packs, which was a sight the residents of Rapides County, Louisiana, would never forget.

In Europe, meanwhile, German troops were not able to land in Britain—much to Hitler’s disappointment and Churchill’s relief. Its shores were highly fortified, and the use of radar there helped the military spot potential invaders who attempted to arrive by ship.

Churchill’s relief was short lived, however. Starting in July 1940, frustrated Germany sent its Luftwaffe bombers roaring through the sky to Britain, causing its terrified citizens to run repeatedly, week after week, into the safety of bomb shelters. Like crystal vases shattered by rocks, Britain’s factories, airports, homes, ports, and buildings were broken apart by German blitz bombs.

Significant events were also happening in Howard Peckham’s army career. In July, he received news that he had been promoted to major and would soon participate in a growing armored force.

This force, which moved on treads, had historic roots in the United States Cavalry, a force of mounted horsemen who galloped their way through America’s wars—starting with the Revolutionary War and ending during World War I. The Louisiana maneuvers, in which tanks had played an important role, had shown the need for a strong armored force within the army. Also, World War I had shown a horse cavalry to be impractical.

The War Department thus created sixteen armored divisions during World War II. It selected Fort Benning, Georgia, as the home base for the 2nd Armored Division, which was activated there on July 15, 1940.

Among the core units attached to the 2nd Armored Division was the 17th Armored Engineer Battalion, whose job was, among other tasks, to design and construct the pontoon bridges across which heavy armor would be driven. The officer appointed to command the 17th Armored Battalion at Fort Benning was Howard Peckham, and Fort Benning was the destination to which we drove in August 1940. In October 1941, about four weeks after his promotion to lieutenant colonel, Howard Peckham was detailed to the General Staff Corps as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, of the 2ndArmored Division. As G-3, he was concerned with the dual functions of planning and operations.

In the following month, the last peacetime maneuvers for the division were held in the Carolinas. In Patton: A Study in Command, H. Essame writes that in an exercise in North Carolina, “Patton and the 2nd Armored Division completely outshone all others.”

In spite of the preparedness of the 2nd Armored Division, no one at Fort Benning was prepared for the startling events that occurred on the otherwise peaceful Sunday of December 7, 1941—especially not the wives and children.My mother was the first member of our family to hear the news. She had been listening to the radio when an announcer interrupted her program with a shocking report—the Japanese had made a sneak attack on America at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

Soon after the attack, the post commander (Omar Bradley) ordered troops from Benning to guard the bridges and electrical generating plants throughout Georgia.

Fears of sabotage or enemy attacks also resulted in the enforcement of air raid drills. When we heard sirens at night indicating that a drill was about to begin, Dad would often call out to my brother and me. “Turn off the lights!” he would shout. Like busy squirrels hunting for acorns, we would rush from room to room to check that they were all off. Then we would sit quietly in the bleak darkness of our home, as though sitting in a cave, until the signal came on again to indicate that the drill had ended.

[It's interesting to note that George Patton served under Omar Bradley at Ft. Benning. As the war progressed, it would be the other way around.]

 Patch of the 2nd Armored Division worn by my father and the other men of the division.

#####Hello world!  This is my first post.  (See more about me in the last paragraph.) I grew up as an “army brat.”  My parents (Howard and Marion Peckham),  brother (Howard L. Peckham Jr.), and I (Jean Peckham Kavale) lived at Fort Benning, Georgia, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. That’s why I picked Benning7 as my user name. That attack, which precipitated  the entry of the United States into World War II, was a turning point for all families, but I think especially for military families such as ours.  The head of the family’s call to duty came quickly after President Franklin Roosevelt’s speech to the nation on December 8, 1941:

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. . . .With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph–so help us God.

References to World War II will appear frequently on this blog, primarily because I wrote a 402-page biography of my father. Its title is A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham.   The book was published in 2008. A second edition was published in May 2011, and it’s on Amazon.com. To read several pages in the book before deciding whether to buy it, just click this link:


Portrait of my father made in 1954

Howard Peckham: 1954

I am eager to share with you what I learned after perusing U. S. Government documents and other sources (such as my father’s diaries and letters and  my own diaries) during my many years of research.  Much of the information I intend to provide, in the form of excerpts from the book, will be new to you readers. I’ll also include a few of my own personal experiences.

A sense of patriotism came early in the mind of Howard L. Peckham, for several reasons. First of all, his family’s roots were deeply embedded in the rich soil of colonial New England; additionally, he was a descendant of Revolutionary War heroes. His dad, Frank E. Peckham, never failed to raise the American flag in front of their house on patriotic holidays.

My father was born in 1897 in Norwich, Connecticut, a beautiful harbor city located in the southeastern part of the state, adjacent to the confluence of the Yantic, Thames, and Shetucket Rivers. He lived in Norwich with his parents and siblings (a brother and two sisters) until he completed high school at renowned Norwich Free Academy.

A graduate of West Point (class of 1918), my father had an admirable career in the U.S. Army, eventually rising to the rank of two-star general.  As Adlai Stevenson once wisely said,

Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.

Those words certainly apply to my father, whose devotion to duty and country stayed with him all his life. Again, the link to A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham on Amazon is


 About Me

I’ve had more than fifteen years of experience as an editor in Silicon Valley, including Senior Editor with PDR Information Services and Contract Editor for Fortune 500 companies. I hold a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland, a teaching credential from San Jose State University, and a master’s degree in pastoral theology from the University of San Francisco. (I’m also the author of  two other books: Faith and Philosophy and From the Potomac to the Seine.) My husband Bob and I are enjoying retirement life in California’s Central Valley.

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