Friday, June 30, 2006


"Captain Ripley at the Dong Ha Bridge"

ONE OF THE MANY THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE MARINE CORPS is that the Marine community (active, Reserve, retired, and former Marines) is small and close-knit. Once you are grafted into the 230-year bloodline, you are part of a family.

This has enabled me, as an active and former Marine, to be in the company of some of the greatest giants of men who have ever walked the planet.

I joined the Corps nearly 25 years ago. I served only one four-year hitch. But I have communed with, learned from, and been life-seasoned by great warriors for a quarter century.
Let's take Col. John W. Ripley as an example.
Col. Ripley's reputation as a veritable combat superman was well-known back when I was a young rifle squad leader in the early to mid-1980's. Today, I count the colonel among my friends, and I've recently included him in several stories here, here, and here.
Which brings me to the point of this post (and the picture).
I've just now received a copy of "[then-Captain] Ripley at the Bridge [Dong Ha Bridge, Vietnam, 1972]," signed by the artist (also a legend in Marine circles), the Marine Corps' official artist-in-residence, Col. Charles Waterhouse.
The tiny, grainy picture you see here does no justice to the masterful work I am actually looking at in my office.
More later (in the meantime, read my and Col. Ripley's comments about what-is and is-not "combat" here).
Semper Fi,

[Please visit W. Thomas Smith Jr. at]

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


"Yo-ho-ho and a rocket-propelled grenade"

Much goings on since last posted (which as usual explains the lack of posting). Anyway, here's a quick update:

What else? Working, a little traveling, some friends and family time.
Enjoyed a cup of coffee Saturday morning at the beautiful Shandon (Columbia, S.C.) home of acclaimed South Carolina author John Hammond Moore. We discussed everything from his latest books to German POWs in S.C. during WWII to dueling in the old South. John is quite a fascinating person, and I am fortunate to know and count him among my friends.
Yesterday, my nephew Michael and I took-in the incredible Napoleon exhibit - a 'must see' - at the S.C. State Museum here in Columbia. The exhibit included original artwork, documents signed by the Emperor, maps, some of his personal military equipment, pieces of his uniform, his summer hat, and other items related to Napoleon, his women, his Marshalls, his wars and politics.

While I'm at it, let me throw in a plug for my buddy John Temple Ligon. His office just released the following:

The second Friday in July is Bastille Day, when I stand in my balcony at the Crillon overlooking the parade in the Place de la Concorde, where heads rolled during the Reign of Terror. The next Friday, July 21, is our monthly lecture on urban design, this time on the history of the town plan of Paris.
This fall, the Columbia Museum of Art is scheduled to exhibit residential work by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. On the second Friday of September and on the second Friday of October, there will be lectures at my place on Wright, and in November, at a time and date to be announced, I offer to be your docent for a guided gallery talk through the Wright exhibition.
Beginning Sunday, January 28, and running for three months is the exhibition at our National Gallery of Art, "Jasper Johns: An Allegory of Painting, 1955-1965." The exhibition's first Saturday morning, February 3, at 10 is set for my tour of the exhibition. I'll be your docent. The museum's guided gallery talks are typically scheduled to start between noon and 2, so feel free to hang around for the in-house offerings. But after my talk, some of us South Carolinians are headed for lunch at the Hay-Adams with a view of the White House. Everyone is invited, to include our South Carolina Congressional delegation and staffs.
Further reminders will be sent, but please try to make each of these occasions. What else are you going to do?
John Temple Ligon
#204 Senate Plaza
1520 Senate Street

Also, catch Temple each Sunday morning on The Sunday Temple Times (9-11 am on WISW Radio 1320 AM) here in Columbia. Or catch him worldwide on streaming audio. The Sunday Temple Times is a fascinating program covering local politics, the arts, various newsmakers, etc. as well as what's hot nationally and internationally.

OK, more to come. Needing some coffee.

[Please visit W. Thomas Smith Jr. at]

Friday, June 09, 2006


Zarqawi is dead

We write about it here at National Review Online.
Also, my analysis (and that of others) on the significance of Zarqawi's death at Family Security Matters.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Invasion of Normandy

Sixty-two years ago (this very moment) the Invasion of Normandy was underway.
Airborne forces had already landed. Seaborne forces were just a few hours away from hitting the beach and breaking down the front door of Fortress Europe.
I wrote about it, two years ago, at National Review Online, on the 60th anniversary of the landings.
Read it here.
Semper Fi,

[Please visit W. Thomas Smith Jr. at]


Hell & Haditha

Hi all,
Racing out the door for a little speedbag action at the Columbia [S.C.] YMCA.
In the meantime, take a moment to check out our latest, Hell & Haditha, at National Review Online. Then see CBS News' version of our story here.
Also, thanks to Rush Limbaugh, who (for the umpteen-zillionth time) included our story in his daily stack of stuff. And thanks to all the bloggers and radio talk-show hosts, including buddies Michael Graham in Boston and John Temple Ligon here in Columbia.
After you finish our story on Haditha, check out our latest at World Defense Review, with a lengthy discussion by Marine Col. John W. Ripley (yes, the Ripley who single-handedly blew up the Dong Ha bridge in Vietnam, 1972) about what-is and is-not "armed combat" - Sage words from a man who truly is a giant among men.
Stay tuned for more publishing updates.
Semper Fi,

[Please visit W. Thomas Smith Jr. at]

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