U.S. Army

The Archbishop and the Concentration Camp

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Retired Archbishop Philip. M. Hannan of New Orleans, still alive at the age of 97, discusses his service in the video above, made in 2007, with the 505th parachute infantry regiment of the 82nd Airborne in World War II.  Ordained at the North American College in Rome on December 8, 1939, he served with the 82nd Airborne as a chaplain from 1942-46, and was known as the Jumping Padre.  He was assigned to be the chaplain of the 505th Regiment with the rank of Captain shortly after the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.  He had many adventures during his time with the 505th, but perhaps the most poignant was what happened to him on May 5th, 1945, in the final days of the War in Europe.

On May 5, 1945, the 505th overran a concentration camp near Wobbelin in Germany.  Captain Hannan and his assistant James Ospital hurried to the camp to see what they could do to help.  A scene of complete horror awaited them.  Corpses were sprawled everywhere.  Dying prisoners lay in filthy bunks crudely made out of branches.  All the prisoners looked like skeletons, both the dead and the living.  The camp reeked of the smells of a charnel house and a sewer.

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Catholic Priests of Dachau

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2288269929627190583

2,579 Catholic priests, seminarians and brothers were thrown by the Nazis during World War II into Dachau.  1,780 of these were from Poland.  Of these, some 868 priests perished, 300 in medical “experiments” or by torture in the showers of the camp.

The remaining priests, seminarians and brothers came from 38 nations.  Besides the Poles the largest groups were 447 German and Austrian priests, 156 French priests and 46 Belgian priests.

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Sergeant York and Gary Cooper-Part I

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In 1941 the film Sergeant York was released.  A biopic on the life of America’s greatest hero of WWI, it brought together two American originals:  Alvin C. York and the actor Gary Cooper.

York arrived in this world on December 3, 1887, the third of the eleven children of William and Mary York.  He was born into rural poverty.  Although both of his parents were quite hard-working, the Yorks lived in a two-room log cabin at a subsistence level.  None of the York children received more than nine-months education, as their labor was desperately needed to farm the few hard scrabble acres that the Yorks owned and to hunt for food to feed the large family.

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Fort Hood Shooter: Passing the Buck

A Defense Department Review has found that doctors overseeing the training of the Fort Hood shooter continually voiced complaints concerning his strident views on Islam and inappropriate behavior.  At the same time Nidal Hasan was promoted and received positive performance evaluations.

In telling episodes from the latter stages of Hasan’s lengthy medical education in the Washington, D.C., area, he gave a class presentation questioning whether the U.S.-led war on terror was actually a war on Islam. And fellow students said he suggested that Shariah (shah-REE’-yuh), or Islamic law, trumped the Constitution and he attempted to justify suicide bombings.

Yet no one in Hasan’s chain of command appears to have challenged his eligibility to hold a secret security clearance even though they could have because the statements raised doubt about his loyalty to the United States. Had they, Hasan’s fitness to serve as an Army officer may have been called into question long before he reported to Fort Hood.

Instead, in July 2009, Hasan arrived in central Texas, his secret clearance intact, his reputation as a weak performer well known, and Army authorities believing that posting him at such a large facility would mask his shortcomings.

The Army knew not only that Hassan was a Jihadist sympathizer, but that he was also a substandard doctor:

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Thank You to Our Men and Women in Service

On this Thanksgiving I’d like to convey my heartfelt thanks to my brother Nathan (currently overseas – prayers requested) and all those in service. I am forever conscious of the sacrifices they make on behalf of our country, including much time spent away from their loved ones.

God bless, God speed — and may you all enjoy such a welcome home.

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Great Jesuits 3: Dynamo From Ireland

Father John McElroy, S. J.

Number 3 of my series on great Jesuits of American history.

A year before the colonies won their fight for independence, John McElroy first saw the light of day in Brookeborough, County Fermanagh, Ireland on May 11,1782.  At this time English imposed penal laws meant that Irish Catholics were treated like helots in their own land.  The great Edmund Burke described the penal laws well:

“For I must do it justice;  it was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts.   It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

As a result of these laws McElroy could receive little education in Ireland.  Ambition and a thirst for knowledge caused him, like many Irish Catholics before and since, to emigrate to the US, landing on our shores in 1803.  He became a bookkeeper at Georgetown College, studying Latin in his off hours.  In 1806 he joined the Jesuits as a lay brother, but his intelligence and his industry quickly marked him down to his Jesuit superiors as a candidate for the priesthood.  Ordained in 1817 , for several years he served at Trinity Church in Georgetown, until being transferred to Frederick, Maryland, where, during the next twenty-three years, with the boundless energy which was his hallmark,  he built Saint John’s Church, a college, an orphan’s asylum, and the first free schools in Frederick.  He was then transferred back to Trinity in Georgetown where he remained for a year until the Mexican War began.

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Massacre at Fort Hood

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13 have been killed and 38 wounded at the Fort Hood army post in Texas.  The alleged shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, is dead, and two alleged suspects have been taken into custody.  This is a major story and details are sparse.  May the souls of the dead victims rest in peace.  More details as they become available.

Update 1: Dead gunman thought to have been a mental health professional,  a psychiatrist. I have heard on Fox that he was assigned in the past to Walter Reed.

Update 2: Gunman was thought to have been a drug and rehab specialist who obtained his license to practice psychiatry in 2005.  According to the Army Times he was promoted to Major on April 22, 2009.

Update 3: More details here about the gunman.

Update 4: Gunman worked at the Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood.

Update 5: Gunman had received a poor performance evaluation at Walter Reed.  He was upset about a forthcoming deployment to Iraq.

Update 6: Colonel Terry Lee who had worked in the past with Hasan says that the gunman had made statements that Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor.  He is being interviewed on Fox.  The Colonel also said that Hasan thought that after Obama was elected the war in Iraq would come to a swift end and he became frustrated that this did not occur.

Update 7: The two suspects taken into custody have been released.  I am hearing that they may have been attempting to subdue the gunman and were taken in for questioning about the incident.  Good!  That makes it much more likely that this is the work of just one deranged individual rather than a conspiracy.

Update 8: Now the local Congressman in whose district Fort Hood is located is stating that he has heard that another suspect has been brought in for questioning.

Update 9: The gunman’s name according to some reports is Nidal Malik Hasan and not Malik Nadal Hasan as initially reported.

Update 10: Here is info on the gunman on the Virginia Board of Medicine Practitioner Information page.

Update 11: According to a cousin of the gunman interviewed on Fox, Hasan was born and reared in this country.  He has always been a Muslim and is not a recent convert as was initially reported.  He joined the military against the wishes of his parents.  He complained about harassment to relatives that he alleged that he received from fellow soldiers in the Army because of his pro-Muslim views.

Update 12: Lieutenant General Bob Cone, the commanding general in charge of Fort Hood, at a press conference announces that Nidal Malik Hasan was wounded and is in custody, and was not killed as was initially reported.  He is also stating that Hasan was the sole shooter, and that no one else appears to have been involved.  He says that the slain and wounded soldiers were in an enclosed area awaiting medical and dental treatment.  A female civilian police officer shot and wounded Hasan.  She was wounded by Hasan and is in stable condition.  (Soon to be celebrated by the nation as a heroine I think.)

Update 13:  NPR has this report:  

A source tells NPR’s Joseph Shapiro that Hasan was put on probation early in his postgraduate work at the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. He was disciplined for proselytizing about his Muslim faith with patients and colleagues, according to the source, who worked with him at the time.

Update 14:  Hasan is the son of Palestinian immigrants, both deceased. 

Update 15:  Reports that Hasan had come to the attention of federal law enforcement authorities six months ago because of internet postings advocating suicide bombings.  This seems to be the post in question:

“There was a grenade thrown amongs a group of American soldiers. One of the soldiers, feeling that it was to late for everyone to flee jumped on the grave with the intention of saving his comrades. Indeed he saved them. He inentionally took his life (suicide) for a noble cause i.e. saving the lives of his soldier. To say that this soldier committed suicide is inappropriate. Its more appropriate to say he is a brave hero that sacrificed his life for a more noble cause. Scholars have paralled this to suicide bombers whose intention, by sacrificing their lives, is to help save Muslims by killing enemy soldiers. If one suicide bomber can kill 100 enemy soldiers because they were caught off guard that would be considered a strategic victory. Their intention is not to die because of some despair. The same can be said for the Kamikazees in Japan. They died (via crashing their planes into ships) to kill the enemies for the homeland. You can call them crazy i you want but their act was not one of suicide that is despised by Islam. So the scholars main point is that “IT SEEMS AS THOUGH YOUR INTENTION IS THE MAIN ISSUE” and Allah (SWT) knows best.”

Take this report with a boulder of salt until it is better confirmed.  However, if the authorities did believe that Hasan was posting on internet sites advocating suicide bombings six months ago, why didn’t the Army take steps to keep him away from troops, especially troops heading for Iraq or Afghanistan?

Update 16:  The brave female police officer who took Hasan down is Police Sergeant Kimberly Munley.  She pumped four bullets into the gunman in spite of being shot by him. 

Update 17:  Hasan shouted Allahu Akbar ( God is Great) before beginning his rampage.

Update 18:  Information about some of the victims here.  May they now be enjoying the Beatific Vision.

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