Band Of Brothers and My Daughter

By Major Van Harl USAF Ret

HBO’s Band of Brothers

Wisconsin –-(  My daughter was in the 11th grade and that year she is taking AP US history.

On occasion, she will ask me if I know anything about a particular point she is studying.

I taught Air Force Junior ROTC which is basically US history with a military flavor. A lot of current American textbooks tend to leave the military side of our history out.

The students come to believe that major points in our historical progress just some how happen and there is no physical struggle or use of military armed conflict. Or if there is conflict (i.e. war) it is played down in many current history books. We are a nation that has been in conflict since the opening shots of the Revolutionary War. By historical standards the US is a very young, new nation but was born in conflict and has sustained and remained in reoccurring conflict for its short 236 years.

I am not trying to say war is a good thing but it is a constant in all societies. If you are lucky to live in a country where there was no major conflict in your lifetime, you won the biggest prize of your natural life.

But as history goes, the odds are your children or grandchildren will not be so lucky. At one point my daughter’s history class moved into 6 June 1944, the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. Her teacher suggests movies that were made about points in history that should be watched and not always for their historical accuracy. My daughter wanted to know if I have a copy of the HBO Band of Brothers mini-series. I do and we had a dad-daughter bonding week watching the series together.

I am retired Air Force but I attended the US Army, Infantry Officer Basic Course at Ft. Benning, Georgia. I am an Army-trained Infantry officer.

The Air Force has no Infantry to protect its air bases, so in time of conflict their “cops” become Infantry.

Eventually, the Air Force established air base defense training. What I like to call Infantry short courses. Short because we do not need to teach some of the skills the Army uses. I was the officer in charge of the first Flight Leaders Course for the new AF “cop” officers. I got myself in trouble the very first day when I told my new class of students I was here to teach them how to kill, not arrest, bad guys. But killing, and leading troops into combat to kill, was what I was taught at Infantry school.

I am a bit of a preparedness and hoarder person. I am always looking for that next gadget to bring home and have ready for the eventual crisis. As my daughter and I watched Band of Brothers I pointed out why I do certain things in my old retired veteran life. When one of the soldiers ran out of water in the middle of combat, I explained why I always carried four canteens in the field and am still buying up good used GI canteens to this day. When SSgt Earl McClung was down to his last round of ammo I explained to my daughter that is why when I carry a firearm I always have multiple rounds for reloading, even when I go to church.

The best firearm in the world is a boat anchor without ammo.

When the paratroopers were wounded in combat scenes I explained this is why there are first aid kits in all the vehicles and spread around our home. When Eugene “Doc” Roe the Medic was desperately looking for a pair of scissors in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge I explained why I always have a Leatherman mini tool with scissors in my pocket.

The Boy Scouts and Infantry school taught me many valuable lessons that have and will continue to keep me alive. My staying alive means I am there to protect and defend my family. In combat, you learn to wound the enemy, not kill them. It takes two more soldiers out of action to tend to the injured. As I explained to my daughter, yes the men of Easy Company were fighting for their country, but when the bullets are flying they are really fighting for their fellow soldier (their family) who is alongside them in combat.

But you must learn the skills and be prepared. Re-watch Band of Brothers with your sons and daughters, hard times are coming–they need to learn.

Major Van Harl USAF Ret
[email protected]

About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.

Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret. , is a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. Now retired, these days he enjoys camping, traveling, volunteering with the Girl Scouts and writing. [email protected]

Major Van Harl USAF Ret Winter 2014