We don't have many good friends in the world. The left would have you believe that it's because we are evil imperialists who everyone hates for our attempts to dominate the globe. The truth has a lot more to do with envy, competition and ignorance, but regardless. Perhaps our truest ally is the the thunder down under, Australia. They have a bit of the same individualist streak that we do and they have been side by side with us in every major conflict we have fought. Recently their Prime Minister took a moment of time to educate presidential candidate, and noted cakeboy Barack Obama, about the foolishness of announcing a retreat while the battle rages. Obama then made a fool of himself by telling Howard if he wanted Obama's valuable attention he needed to pony up 20, 000 troops, not respecting the fact that Australia's commitment is already quite impressive based on population. John Howard has long been a voice of reason on the international stage, and good on him.
Thinking on the Aussies reminded me of one of my favorite memories. A little bit of fall out from the former British Empire, played out in a beer tent.
The best inter-national scrap I witnessed was at the Nijmegen Marches in Holland. I was stationed in Germany and was training to go to the Special Forces Q course and thought that walking 30 miles a day for 4 days in a row in July would be good prep. These Marches memorialized the fateful "A Bridge too Far" saga from WWII, which was a bold but ultimately tragic attempt to drop airborne troops in Holland and then reinforce them with armor. The marches traveled the ground the American, British, Polish and other allied troops fought and died on.
One day we left at the same time in the morning as a team from the British Army Paras It was a glorious day and the Dutch were all out along the route cheering and waving and sending their kids out with snacks or water or even in one case the ubiquitous Heineken, we all felt great when we got back to the compound where troops from 30 countries were camped together. In true warrior fashion we decided to march directly into the beer tent, dropped rucks at our tables and ordered many Heinekens. Things progressed and an Aussie team marched in and did the same at the next table ordering and enjoying many beers. The rest of the tale, and a few other excellent brawls after the break.
At some point one of the Brits decide to climb the rib of the tent, which was about 25 feet at the peak, and hung the Union Jack to the cheers of all nations in the tent. He then climbed back down and was rewarded with???Yes Beer. More teams came in, more beer was drunk and at some point an enterprising Aussie decided to add their Green Bay Packer-looking flag to the display and started up the same rib the Brit had climbed before to the hearty cheers of the crowd below. He made the peak and hung the flag as the crowd went wild, then rather than just climb down, he cut loose the Union Jack and it was on. Two Brits started from opposite sides of the rib and were climbing up to dismember the offender, the rest of both teams cut loose and there was wicked good brawling. When the Brits got close to the Aussie at the peak he decided to cut himself loose and just crashed down on top of the brawl and of course the Brits would not be outdone and followed suit. We neutral Americans picked up our beers and stepped to the edge so as not to take any collateral damage.
All in all splendid entertainment.
One of the most insane beatings I ever witnessed was delivered by an Irish member of a Scots unit, The Queens Own Scottish Highlanders. They had sent a company to train with my battalion 2/1 SFGA from Ft. Lewis during our annual winter warfare extravaganza.
Each team got one troopie and ours was Tony Moore a 5'8" tall maniac. He was a great guy all the way around but shockingly for an Irishman he got a little crazy when he drank. We were training at Ft. Wm. Henry Harrison in Montana and on the occasions when we had free time we adjourned to the wild night life in Helena, Montana where most of the bars had a sign saying "Check Guns At Door".
This night was fairly standard with beer drinking and s*** talking taking center stage, until the table next to ours began things. There were probably 15-20 of my piezos and our UK allies in a bar filled with 50 or so Montanans. This would have been no problem except that the table next was occupied by a birthday boy and former football hero celebrating his 21st. He was a corn-fed former linebacker used to getting his way and was truly full of himself this eve.
He had three chicas at the table attending to his needs and he was not treating them very respectfully. This started to annoy our friend Tony and eventually he felt obligated to inform the neckless wonder. He strutted over to testosterone boy's table and in the dulcet tones of the Drunken Irishman informed him that he would not tolerate this behavior towards the ladies. This led our intrepid football hero to proclaim "Sit the **** down you dumbass furriner!"
Tony responded with an extended bird but he missed his beer and sat back down. The evening continued normally with Tony and Butkus eyeballing each other and thinking of numerous slights the other must obviously have committed. Until for some reason no one but they could identify they blew up.
Tony jumped up swearing in Drunken Irish about dumbass corn-fed ass clowns and the dumbass corn-fed ass clown was describing how he would rip this punk furriner's head off and beat him with it. From there it went into Warner Brothers cartoon mode and all I remember is Tony climbing him like a lumberjack up a tree and hitting him as soon as he was halfway up. He hit him 200-300 times and rode him over all the way to the ground like a tree freshly cut at which point we jumped up and snatched him off the brutalized brute and hustled him out the door before we had issues with the Montanans or the Law.
The greatest punch I have ever seen came during a scrap between some Air Force varmints and Marines outside Clark AFB in the Philippines. We were in one of several hundred little dives that lined the streets outside the base. Since Clark was populated by the Air Force it was much more civilized than Subic Bay Naval Base where the fleet lands and the Marines usually hang out. They were visiting Clark for some exercise and during off duty hours they were making a nuisance of themselves by annoying and overpaying the local hookers, being loud and obnoxious in the high class drinking establishments and generally acting like Marines. Shockingly this eventually led to fisticuffs and as once again we had no dog in this fight we grabbed our beers and backed up to the wall to enjoy the action. It was a fairly typical mass bar brawl that eventually boiled outside with quite a few heads getting cracked on both sides, but it did appear that the Leatherneck fighting spirit was prevailing. One instance involved a Marine who had a wingnut in a headlock and was alternately bashing him in the head with a fist and berating him regarding the general failings of the Air Force and his parentage. This went on for a bit when the wingnut's girlfriend, another wingnut, noticed the abuse her beloved was enduring and snapped. She ran at them and launched herself onto the Marine's back. This was the first he noticed of her and that was not a good thing for her. In the midst of battle he perceived a threat to his rear and took appropriate action. In this case that involved dropping the now helpless wingnut and wheeling and dealing with the threat to his rear. He spun and clocked the silly girl dead in the jaw and she just flopped out cold, literally teats up. The leatherneck never knew it was a girl until she was already laid out and upon noticing his only comment was "stupid b****" before walking off to find a fresh victim.
Another beer tent brawl I saw was in Augsburg, Germany which is on the autobahn between Stuttgart and Munich. When I lived there they were celebrating the 2000th anniversary of the founding of the city. I say again the 2000th, which boggled the mind of someone whose homeland had celebrated it's 200th anniversary during his lifetime. It had been a major banking center for a long time and was a very established Old Europe enclave. The Germans have a system where they allow Gastarbeiten (guest workers) mostly Turks into the country to do some of the heavy lifting and crap work. It is similar to what W has proposed with Mexicans subbing for the Turks. The Gastarbeiten have no chance at citizenship and are treated quite poorly by most Germans. This was reinforced vividly at a bierfest in Augsburg when a fight broke out between US soldiers and some Germans over some vitally important issue. The German Polizei have a well deserved reputation for aggression gained in no small part due to some strangely liberal rules regarding police brutality and their development and use of the stagger baton, a flexible whacking stick which if properly employed can be made to vibrate delivering multiple blows. Within the Polizei were differing grades progressing from patrolman to motorcycle cop, with the propensity for violence increasing every step. The motorcycle cops were the lords of their domain and they rode incredible BMW bikes fast as any Porsche they might have to chase down on the autobahn. The bikes were a wicked lime green and they wore Polizei green motorcycle leathers that would be the envy of any cafe racer.
This night the cycle jockeys had responsibility for the tent we were in and soon after the fight started they came barreling into the scene and upon surveying the situation and determining that this was a scrap between Americans GIs and Germans they took appropriate action by grabbing a group of Turks at the next table who hadn't done a damn thing. They snatched them up and stagger-whacked them out of the tent while the actual brawlers stopped fighting in amazement and ended up making peace christened with quality German lager and leavened with the schadenfreude of someone else's suffering.