With All This News Coming Out About Our Government

I just felt the need to read this again.

Be seated.

Men, all this stuff you hear about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of bullshit. Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big-league ball players and the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Battle is the most significant competitions in which a man can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.

You are not all going to die. Only two percent of you right here today would be killed in a major battle. Every man is scared in his first action. If he says he’s not, he’s a goddamn liar. But the real hero is the man who fights even though he’s scared. Some men will get over their fright in a minute under fire, some take an hour, and for some it takes days. But the real man never lets his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood.

All through your army career you men have bitched about what you call ‘this chicken-shit drilling.’ That is all for a purpose—to ensure instant obedience to orders and to create constant alertness. This must be bred into every soldier. I don’t give a f*** for a man who is not always on his toes. But the drilling has made veterans of all you men. You are ready! A man has to be alert all the time if he expects to keep on breathing. If not, some German son-of-a-bitch will sneak up behind him and beat him to death with a sock full of shit. There are four hundred neatly marked graves in Sicily, all because one man went to sleep on the job—but they are German graves, because we caught the bastard asleep before his officer did.

An army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, and fights as a team. This individual hero stuff is bullshit. The bilious bastards who write that stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don’t know any more about real battle than they do about f***ing. And we have the best team—we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit and the best men in the world. Why, by God, I actually pity these poor bastards we’re going up against.

All the real heroes are not storybook combat fighters. Every single man in the army plays a vital role. So don’t ever let up. Don’t ever think that your job is unimportant. What if every truck driver decided that he didn’t like the whine of the shells and turned yellow and jumped headlong into a ditch? That cowardly bastard could say to himself, ‘Hell, they won’t miss me, just one man in thousands.’ What if every man said that? Where in the hell would we be then? No, thank God, Americans don’t say that. Every man does his job. Every man is important. The ordnance men are needed to supply the guns, the quartermaster is needed to bring up the food and clothes for us because where we are going there isn’t a hell of a lot to steal. Every last damn man in the mess hall, even the one who boils the water to keep us from getting the GI shits, has a job to do.

Each man must think not only of himself, but think of his buddy fighting alongside him. We don’t want yellow cowards in the army. They should be killed off like flies. If not, they will go back home after the war, goddamn cowards, and breed more cowards. The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off the goddamn cowards and we’ll have a nation of brave men.

One of the bravest men I saw in the African campaign was on a telegraph pole in the midst of furious fire while we were moving toward Tunis. I stopped and asked him what the hell he was doing up there. He answered, ‘Fixing the wire, sir.’ ‘Isn’t it a little unhealthy up there right now?’ I asked. ‘Yes sir, but this goddamn wire has got to be fixed.’ I asked, ‘Don’t those planes strafing the road bother you?’ And he answered, ‘No sir, but you sure as hell do.’ Now, there was a real soldier. A real man. A man who devoted all he had to his duty, no matter how great the odds, no matter how seemingly insignificant his duty appeared at the time.

And you should have seen the trucks on the road to Gabès. Those drivers were magnificent. All day and all night they crawled along those son-of-a-bitch roads, never stopping, never deviating from their course with shells bursting all around them. Many of the men drove over 40 consecutive hours. We got through on good old American guts. These were not combat men. But they were soldiers with a job to do. They were part of a team. Without them the fight would have been lost.

Sure, we all want to go home. We want to get this war over with. But you can’t win a war lying down. The quickest way to get it over with is to get the bastards who started it. We want to get the hell over there and clean the goddamn thing up, and then get at those purple-pissing Japs. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. So keep moving. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper-hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler.

When a man is lying in a shell hole, if he just stays there all day, a Boche will get him eventually. The hell with that. My men don’t dig foxholes. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. We’ll win this war, but we’ll win it only by fighting and showing the Germans that we’ve got more guts than they have or ever will have. We’re not just going to shoot the bastards, we’re going to rip out their living goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Hun c***suckers by the bushel-f***ing-basket.

Some of you men are wondering whether or not you’ll chicken out under fire. Don’t worry about it. I can assure you that you’ll all do your duty. War is a bloody business, a killing business. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them, spill their blood or they will spill yours. Shoot them in the guts. Rip open their belly. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt from your face and you realize that it’s not dirt, it’s the blood and gut of what was once your best friend, you’ll know what to do.

I don’t want any messages saying ‘I’m holding my position.’ We’re not holding a goddamned thing. We’re advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding anything except the enemy’s balls. We’re going to hold him by his balls and we’re going to kick him in the ass; twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all the time. Our plan of operation is to advance and keep on advancing. We’re going to go through the enemy like shit through a tinhorn.

There will be some complaints that we’re pushing our people too hard. I don’t give a damn about such complaints. I believe that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood. The harder we push, the more Germans we kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing harder means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that. My men don’t surrender. I don’t want to hear of any soldier under my command being captured unless he is hit. Even if you are hit, you can still fight. That’s not just bullshit either. I want men like the lieutenant in Libya who, with a Luger against his chest, swept aside the gun with his hand, jerked his helmet off with the other and busted the hell out of the Boche with the helmet. Then he picked up the gun and he killed another German. All this time the man had a bullet through his lung. That’s a man for you!

Don’t forget, you don’t know I’m here at all. No word of that fact is to be mentioned in any letters. The world is not supposed to know what the hell they did with me. I’m not supposed to be commanding this army. I’m not even supposed to be in England. Let the first bastards to find out be the goddamned Germans. Some day, I want them to rise up on their piss-soaked hind legs and howl ‘Ach! It’s the goddamned Third Army and that son-of-a-bitch Patton again!’

Then there’s one thing you men will be able to say when this war is over and you get back home. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting by your fireside with your grandson on your knee and he asks, ‘What did you do in the great World War Two?’ You won’t have to cough and say, ‘Well, your granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana.’ No sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say ‘Son, your granddaddy rode with the great Third Army and a son-of-a-goddamned-bitch named George Patton!

All right, you sons of bitches. You know how I feel. I’ll be proud to lead you wonderful guys in battle any time, anywhere. That’s all.

Is it even possible to read that and not hear it in George C. Scott’s voice in your head?

17 Responses to “With All This News Coming Out About Our Government”

  1. tree hugging sister says:

    We just WATCHED it again, Saturday night night.

    And I do know how I feel, every single time I see it ~ from that first time in the theatre in Long Beach, NJ to my living room in Pensacola…especially NOW.

  2. JeffS says:

    Oddly enough, I was thinking about the same speech over the weekend.

    Or not so oddly, come to think of it.

  3. Skyler says:

    Three years ago I was at a restaurant in Tool, Texas with my wife. The next table was occupied by an old man and his wife. My wife noticed he was wearing an army themed ball cap and a navy style belt buckle, so she asked him if he was in the military.

    The man’s wife glowered at us, and it took a bit for me to figure out why. The poor man still has terrible nightmares and PTSD from his time in the army in Italy in WWII.

    He started telling us that he was in a recon outfit, and they were in general support of a particular battalion, but not under that battalion’s command. They stopped for the night at a cross roads and dug in. The battalion they were supporting didn’t dig in, so they went and suggested that they were about to get shelled and need to dig in.

    The answer was that their battalion commander did not allow them to dig in.

    The gentlemen got a far away glaze in his eyes as he described the carnage of so many in that battalion getting killed, essentially wiping it out, when the artillery attack began.

    I was amazed that any battalion commander could be that stupid, though after a few I’ve seen I should know better. I wondered what on Earth would cause such an order to not dig in.

    Now I see that Patton himself gave the order. He was a great leader, no doubt, but that was a dumb thing to say, from a man who got in a lot of trouble for saying a lot of dumb things.

  4. Skyler says:

    We realized that we had stirred up some really bad memories for this man and we went back to our table, but the poor woman had a rough night trying to get him to calm down the rest of the evening.

  5. nancy says:

    When my dad was in the nursing home a new doctor came in to evaluate him. To check his reflexes he held his hands up and open, then ask dad to punch.
    With as much spirit as he had left,Daddy gave two rights and a left. The Dr. gave a patronizing chuckle and remarked,”Oh, a boxer here.” Daddy answered right back, “You Gd right…I fought 2 exhibitions for Patton in Tokyo!”

  6. Mr. Bingley says:

    Well not your fault, Skyler; you were trying to pay your respects.

    That’s pretty neat, nancy!

  7. Skyler says:

    When was Patton in Tokyo? 🙂

  8. JeffS says:

    Patton pushed his troops to the edge, and over, Skyler. They paid a horrible price, but he was an effective, aggressive commander who won battles the best way possible: quickly.

    Case in point: My father flew a P-38 fighter during WWII, and often supported ground operations in North Africa, and during the invasion of Sicily.

    At one point, his squadron was flying on a “search and destroy” mission, where everything (as he put it) “beyond a certain line” (what I would call the “forward edge of the battle area”) was considered to be the enemy, and hence a viable target.

    During this mission, they saw a column of tanks. They never checked the silhouettes to confirm friend or foe, since the location was WELL beyond the FEBA. But they went ahead and shot (to quote Dad) “the living hell” out of the tanks.

    When they landed at their base, Patton himself (or so Dad implied) was on the phone, screaming about his tanks getting shot up by P-38 fighters. And those tanks were there because Patton told them to be there, flagrantly ignoring the lines of control set up by the theater commander. He risked so-called “friendly fire” in order to keep the Germans off balance, and not wait for the rest of the Allies.

    In some places, that would be a court martial offense.

    Dad watched the Patton movie with great interest — I still remember our trip to the drive in theater to see it. He wanted to see it. And liked it.

  9. Skyler says:

    JeffS, I thought I said he was a great leader, but stupid mistakes like that should not have happened. He destroyed a good chunk of his own army simply because someone didn’t tell the air corps where the tanks would be.

    There are risks in war and probably that was a good one before hindsight is applied. Communications were not as easy then as now.

    But I stand by my statement that Patton said a lot of stupid things, most famously slapping that soldier. He did nothing for the morale of his own men, most of whom knew that battle fatigue is real and can be very temporary if you let someone rest and then get them back to their unit quickly, or even better, never taking them out of the unit.

    Had he only been half a running mouth as he had, he might have had Eisenhower’s job, and we might never have had Market Garden or the battle of the bulge.

    He was a great leader, but he certainly had faults, and telling men to never dig foxholes is really dumb, on the level of the French prior to the First World War who refused to train their men any defensive tactics because they felt it would demoralize them. When the Blitzkrieg came, they didn’t know how to defend and they panicked.

  10. Ken S says:

    Skyler, most points taken. But not Market Garden. That was Monty, and all Monty, all the way.

  11. JeffS says:

    You are reading too much into what I said, Skyler. I said he was an aggressive, effective combat commander. Patton wanted to fight. Aggression was his trademark.

    But I never said he was an equal to Bradley or Eisenhower. I’m not sure he wanted to be, from what I’ve read about him.

    Yeah, Patton said and did plenty of stupid things. No argument, Patton was human, after all. But so were the other commanders of the day. I tend to cut him some slack on this. I wouldn’t ignore the importance of digging in, but I am not going to second guess his actions 70 years later, just as I don’t second guess my father’s actions in the story above. I just learned from them.

    (Ken is entirely correct, by the way: Operation Market Garden was Montgomery’s concept from the start. And Monty’s predilection for “tidying up” after a battle often meant taking the same ground twice.)

    The point being, Patton may be hated by many people, but he got the job done in the end. He won battles, campaigns, and in the end, the war. Which is what soldiers are supposed to do.

  12. Skyler says:

    The Supreme Commander, Eisenhower, approved Monty’s very bad plans for Market Garden. Had Patton been in charge that stupid plan never would have been allowed.

  13. Ebola says:

    Fighting for that man would have engendered a combat hardon.

  14. nancy says:

    Skylar, I don’t know. It was aboard ship.

  15. Mr. Bingley says:

    I’m sure it was when Patton cam back to the US in the Summer of ’45. Lots of soldiers on board the ship and everyone knew that Patton said the quickest way home was through Berlin and Tokyo…and he was right, of course. You ought to be very proud of your Pop, nancy!

  16. nancy says:

    Yes, they were entertaining the visiting General. A highlight for them all.

  17. JeffS says:

    Yeah, Ike did approve “Market Garden”, so he and Monty share the responsibility. He was as much a politician as commander. If not more so. Which is why I suspect that Patton never wanted to be an “equal” to Eisenhower.

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