--Mark Dankof to the Constitution Party of Maryland in 2004 as reported in Seeds of Brilliance--
My father is a retired United States Air Force Colonel and a denizen of the expansive Eagles’ Wings community in San Antonio adjacent to Randolph Air Force Base (RAFB). He is a good and decent man who has spent retirement doing volunteer work for the Base Pharmacy, driving cancer patients to treatments, and serving as an elder statesman without portfolio at Chapel One at Randolph--which to the uninitiated is the home of the Air Training Command (ATC). In more recent times, he has lent his name to the national efforts to build an Air Force Memorial in Washington, D. C. He informs me that the USAF is the only branch of the American military sans such recognition in the Nation’s Capitol. In his waning days, it is his hope to assist in rectifying this oversight, especially on behalf of those who did not return home and whose names come to conscious but fast-fading memory when the Missing Man Formation flies over another military memorial service as it streaks toward the horizon and sunset. In my father’s case, he will on one approaching day be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, where my USAF godfather currently occupies a special plot in Section 60 off Omar Bradley Drive.
My father is now 85 years old. He is the last survivor of six sons born to German-American immigrants in a benign, but nondescript farming town in the American heartland called Hamburg, Iowa. He was the only one of his siblings fortunate enough to graduate from high school in the context of the American Depression. According to Air Force records and the University of Omaha at Nebraska (UNO) archives, his travels spanned 65 countries and 5 decades. His fledgling NFL football career with the Philadelphia Eagles was preempted by Pearl Harbor. After Army Air Corps enlistment on December 8th, 1941 in Omaha, he eventually graduated from Officers’s Candidate School (OCS) in Puerto Rico. After VE-Day, he assisted in the occupation of German Bavaria while becoming the Head Coach and starting offensive and defensive end for the Erding Arrowheads, an American military football team in a league created for the entertainment of occupiers and occupied alike. Several of the games drew 65,000+. There was, however, one brief–and almost fatal--glitch in my father’s career at that time–an American Army Air Corps promotion board was getting ready to nix his promotion to Captain. The reason? He admitted without equivocation when questioned, that he had been involved with the German/American black market in Bavaria. He offered no hint of extenuating circumstance to the board. His merger with the newly formed United States Air Force and a derivative promotion were thus dead in the water.
But the decision to overturn this career death sentence and to reinstate my father with a full promotion occurred because of one man– General Curtis E. LeMay, the famed Iron Eagle who had reduced Nazi Germany and Japan to incinerated rubble from the air; and who subsequently founded the Strategic Air Command, later becoming Air Force Chief of Staff under John F. Kennedy. LeMay was troubled by my father’s affirmative answer to the black market interrogatory, even more so by the silence that followed when pressed to explain himself. The Iron Eagle personally pressed for a subterranean investigation. His discovery? That my father was the ringleader of a small handful of junior American Air Force officers who had been approached by Bavarian locals with the request for help for their families. The Bavarians needed food, mittens, scarves, coats, and other items for their children in the grim post-war conditions of southern Germany. They had discovered my father’s identity and presence in their civilian community because of the wide distribution of an Erding Arrowhead football program which clearly showed that the Head Coach and starting offensive/defensive end was an American of German extraction. Would he agree to procure items covertly from the Base Exchange in exchange for whatever black market items the Bavarians could scrounge up as barter commodities? The answer from my father was a resounding “no.” This was a clear violation of Air Force regulations. He did tell the Bavarians, however, that he and a small group of unnamed American officers he could secretly enlist in the neighborhood would help. He offered no further explanation to them as to how, only the times and the drop sites where the Germans would find regular, surreptitious food and clothing deliveries--with the caveat that if anyone opened his mouth even once, the deal was off.
After this discovery, LeMay informed the Air Corps promotion board that my father’s transition from Army Air Corps to United States Air Force--along with a promotion to Captain--would indeed take place. There was some dissent from this edict, especially from a General Officer resident on the board who thought that my father was soft on “Krauts,” and had violated Base Exchange regulations. According to a USAF source who told me the gist of the story decades later, LeMay’s decisive retort was basically as follows:
1. Lieutenant Karl E. Dankof has not violated any regulations of the United States Air Force, including those of
the Base Exchange. Neither have any of the other junior officers involved in this situation in Bavaria and Munich.
While they procured items from the Exchange to give to local German citizens, they were motivated by humanitarian
concerns, utilized their own money, and took nothing of value in exchange. I am satisfied that this represents the
best–not the worst–of the Air Force ethos.
2. Lieutenant Karl E. Dankof replied with complete truthfulness to the promotion board without equivocation, knowing that truthfulness might produce disqualification from his Air Force career. This represents the best of the Air Force ethos as well.
3. I personally demanded explanation from Lieutenant Karl E. Dankof as to why he did not elaborate before the promotion board, regarding the real reasons for his involvement in the so-called German black market, after I discovered the truth through extensive formal investigation. I simply sat down with him and said, “Let’s have it–all of it–from the beginning.” He then stated to me that any elaboration would have “endangered the lives and careers of his friends.” This is another underscoring of the best of the Air Force ethos.
4. Lieutenant Karl E. Dankof has a fine record as an Air Corps logistician and an officer. The board recognized this.
5. Lieutenant Karl E. Dankof is a Prussian. Prussians always make great military officers.
6. The Erding Arrowhead football team is a great collective representation of the American occupation of Germany and of Bavaria. Lieutenant Karl E. Dankof is inextricably linked to this valued program.
7. Finally, it comes to my attention that there is continued division among the members of this board regarding the legitimacy of my unilateral decision to overturn the board’s previous verdict in this matter without further discussion or re-casting of official ballots. First, I am right on the merits of this case; however even more significantly, it bears reiteration that I am personally the embodiment of the entire goddamned United States Air Force, and anyone who disagrees with this-- or any of my decisions on this pivotal basis--is personally invited to fuck himself while leaving through the back door without being struck in the ass as a result. This is the best of the Air Force ethos.
Curtis Emerson LeMay
The years that followed were epic ones. My father was involved in the Berlin Airlift; the Air Proving Ground; Turkey; Headquarters USAF; the Air Force Technical Applications Center during the Cuban Missile Crisis; and as Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC) liaison to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. General LeMay tapped him several times to be a personal aide when the Iron Eagle’s presence was summoned for special conferences. My father would later spend “civilian” life from 1973-1985 as a logistics director for the Shah of Iran’s Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF), and the Saudi Arabian Air Force in Riyadh. He would raise two sons and four grandchildren. In the last two years, a shoulder replacement; a knee replacement; open-heart surgery; cellulitis; excruciating pancreas pain; and a hip replacement would fail to stop his routine of 18 holes of golf a day in south Texas. At the same time,he freely acknowledges that deepening sunset and the echoing refrain of taps for Roll Call have come ever closer, even as he places his eternal fate in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Colonel Karl E. Dankof (USAF-ret.) teeing off in San Antonio; March 2005
But of all the blessings and the memories, the one that lingers best is of my father in his Air Force blue, sitting down with either my brother or me on those thankfully rare occasions when one of us was being less than truthful with him about something that mandated complete candor before God and among men. The voice was never raised; there was never a hint of violence or profanity; we simply had to endure his piercing look into our respective eyes, followed by a personalized version of the Iron Eagle’s own challenge to my father light years before: “Let’s have it–all of it–from the beginning.”
The American people must now use the same question, in the same tone, for those inching our children closer to involvement in a wider war in the Middle East. The Monday, April 11th USA Today sports a front-page headline entitled, “U. S. Aims to Spend Money in Iran: $3M Earmarked For Democracy.” The author is one Barbara Slavin. Ms. Slavin’s article is as significant for what it doesn’t say, as for what it does. Nowhere in this puff-piece for a Corporate America PR sheet are the American people told exactly who and what is really behind this latest move by Bush and Congress to earmark these funds. For this information, the discerning reader may thank Kam Zarrabi of Payvand’s Iran News who gives us a revealing litany of the usual Neo-Conservative and Israeli-tainted suspects interested in war on behalf of Ariel Sharon and Western oil consortiums. And there they are: Jerome Corsi, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), the American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Michael Ledeen, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), The Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), and Jack Kemp and the Boys at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), just for openers.
Make no mistake: the demise of the IRI regime in Iran is in the interest of freedom-loving Iranians and civilization in general. It is the methodology and the proposed instruments of achieving this laudable goal, chronicled in the Zarrabi expose, that are fraught with the peril of unintended–and horrific--consequences.
Hey, is anybody looking. or aren’t these some of the same folks who promoted a preemptive war with Iraq under fraudulent pretenses? Haven’t we just killed at least 100,000 Iraqis for this scam of Weapons of Mass Destruction? Are the lives of 1,500 dead Americans and an estimated 15,000-20,000 wounded worth what we’ve done already? And didn’t the United States overthrow an elected Iranian government in 1953? Didn’t this result in “blowback” and fuel the subsequent Islamic Revolution in 1979-80? Will the Iranian people remember that Iraq utilized American-supplied chemical weapons against Iran in August 1988, to the tune of 65,000 dead Iranians [one million Iranians dead; 150,000 Iraqi by the end of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war]? If the United States is having trouble pacifying a country of 26 million people [Iraq] with 130,000 troops, how will it be done in a country of 70 million [Iran] without the re-institution of the Draft? Will the Iranians use Basiji volunteers against American troops as massive-wave suicide attackers as they did with Iraq a generation ago? Are the Iranian nuclear plants as close to weapons production as the Neo-Conservatives claim? Can American-Israeli air strikes truly eliminate these dispersed, underground sites throughout Iran, and without a follow-up conventional invasion? How many Iranian civilians would be killed? What would the response of Putin and the Chinese be? How do you attack a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in alliance with a country that isn’t one itself [Israel]? And how much money streaming into the Iranian human rights and expatriate movements–and the American religious right clamoring for an open War of Civilizations with the Islamic world–has the fingerprints of American Jewish and Israeli political and economic interests all over it? Let’s have the numbers, the names, the dates, and the trail–perhaps we might even begin with Mr. Ghorbanifar and Curt Weldon of Philadelphia. And what in hell, pray tell, is Paul Wolfowitz now doing as the head of the World Bank?
And aside from potentially unjustifiable war and concomitant massive loss of life, what would new War Party Expenditures for Empire and Israel do to the economic stability of the United States and the West? Pat Buchanan reminds us in the April 11th The American Conservative that:
Last year’s trade deficit topped $617 billion. In January, it hit $58.3 billion, portending a deficit in
2005 of $700 billion. U. S. trade and budget deficits combined are 10 percent of GDP. We are borrowing
$2 billion a day abroad to subsidize our lifestyle. The American consumer has never been more indebted–in
credit cards, auto loans, mortgages.
The dollar has lost a third of its value against the euro in three years. Gold is back close to $450 an ounce, a run-up of 70 percent. Oil is bumping up against $55 a barrel. When South Korea and then Japan’s Koizumi hinted their treasuries might diversify reserves and hold a lesser share in dollars, the Dow experienced what pilots call, as you grab the arm rests and hold on for dear life, “a little choppiness.” The last fruits of free-trade globalism may be financial collapse.
Has the war on Iran already begun? What about credible reports of American-Israeli paramilitary operations already emanating from Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and Balochistan? What does the Bunker-Buster Bomb Sale to Tel Aviv portend? Who and what is behind the SMCCDI reports of serious unrest in Iranian cities and provinces, including Isfahan? And do people like Reagan UN ambassador Kenneth “The Cakewalk” Edelman really believe in an easy removal of the Mullahs and their nuke plants; the complete success of American-Israeli operations in Iran; and the smooth installation of another Pahlavi as Shah of Iran? How can American and Israeli fingerprints possibly be hidden from the world on all of this?
General Curtis LeMay and Colonel Karl Dankof might well suggest the following approach for the American people interested in asking the central questions about war and peace of Mr. Bush, the Neo-Cons, the Iranian expatriate community, and the War of Civilizations crowd within the American Religious Right.
Look them collectively in the eye and say, firmly:
“Let’s have it–all of it–from the beginning.” Now.
Mark Dankof and Dad after the 18th hole in San Antonio, March 2005.
(Mark Dankof is a Lutheran pastor and free-lance journalist, occasionally contributing to Iran Dokht, Al Bawaba, Nile Media, CASCFEN, and other Internet news sites. Once a 3rd party candidate for the United States Senate in Delaware , he maintains the web-site Mark Dankof’s America while pursuing post-graduate theological education at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.) His commentary may be found regularly on SARTRE's Old American Right and Republic news site, Breaking All the Rules and at DixieInternet.com.
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