Author: Roger D. McGrath (Roger D. McGrath)

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No Apologies

I am one of those who has hoped for a Trump victory since he announced his intention to run in the Republican primary. It was simple. He came out forcefully on the issue of immigration, which normally caused Republican candidates to be struck dumb and blind. We here in California have seen the deleterious effects...

The Gunfighter: Myth or Reality?
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The Gunfighter: Myth or Reality?

The reality of the Old West does not sit well with many in academe, who take pride in thinking they are debunking what they call cherished myths of the American people.  I think this is especially the case when talking about gunfighters.  There is clearly an impulse to attempt to destroy what most of us...

An Aroused Populace—With Guns
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An Aroused Populace—With Guns

At the Pulse nightclub on June 16, Omar Seddique Mateen, a Muslim on his own personal jihad, opened fire on the crowd of more than 300.  No one shot back.  Some tried to hide in the bathrooms.  One of those in a bathroom texted his mother, “He’s coming.  I’m gonna die.”  He was right.  Mateen...

The Okie From Oildale
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The Okie From Oildale

A boyhood pastime when I was growing up was building radios.  We did it in Cub Scouts and again, at a more sophisticated level, in Boy Scouts.  Various kits were available, but we all started with a simple crystal set.  It seemed almost magical that with a few components, essentially wire and a crystal, and...

Hollywood’s Lone Ace
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Hollywood’s Lone Ace

He is virtually unknown to Americans today, though he appeared in 65 movies and was the only actor to become an ace during World War II.  Born in Los Angeles in 1914 to Nebraskan Bert DeWayne Morris and Texan Anna Fitzgerald, he would be christened with his father’s name but go by Wayne Morris.  While...

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Lee Marvin, Marine

I first met Lee Marvin in 1964.  I had seen him around town for several years.  He lived on Latimer Road in Rustic Canyon, a part of our then small, quaint hamlet of Pacific Palisades.  He had four children, but his marriage was on the rocks, and he was spending many an evening drinking at...

Dining With The Donald
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Dining With The Donald

When Donald Trump started making noise about running for president, I knew next to nothing about him.  Since I don’t watch television, I’m not sure whether I could even have identified him in a lineup.  I knew only that he was a New York-based real-estate mogul and had a series of beautiful wives.  So it...

A Perversion of History
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A Perversion of History

If you think the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the grounds of the South Carolina capitol was the end of flag controversy, you may be surprised to learn that an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times declared, “It’s time California dump” the Bear Flag, “a symbol of blatant illegality and racial prejudice. ...

Belleau Wood
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Belleau Wood

Within the Marine Corps the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood is legendary.  Outside the Corps it is relatively unknown.  Yet the battle was a turning point in the history of the Corps, clearly demonstrating that the Marines could operate at brigade strength in conventional warfare.  Until then Marines were used principally as landing...

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An American Sniper

A galloglass was a professional warrior hired by an Irish chief.  The practice of employing such men became common in the decades following the Norman invasion, when it became obvious that heavily armed and mail-clad fighters were needed to contest the battlefield.  One Irish contemporary described how the Gaels of Ireland had gone into battle...

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Ernie Nevers

George Nevers and Mary McKenna were married in 1881 in New Brunswick, Canada.  He was from an old Sunbury County family, but her parents were immigrants to neighboring York County from Ireland.  The Neverses would have eight children.  The first two were born in Canada, and the rest in either Minnesota or Wisconsin after the...

Battle of the Journeymen
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Battle of the Journeymen

The 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I has long been anticipated, judging by the publication of dozens of new books on what was called, until World War II, the Great War, although the Ghastly War might be more appropriate.  Paul Jankowski, a professor of history at Brandeis University, has made a scholarly...

The Fighting Chaplain
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The Fighting Chaplain

Born in 1905 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Joseph Timothy O’Callahan was reared in a devout Irish Catholic family.  He took to learning with a passion and earned his bachelor’s degree by the time he was 20, and his doctorate at the age of 24.  Shortly afterward, he joined the faculty of the physics department at Boston...

Confiscating Liberty
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Confiscating Liberty

I first came upon Stephen P. Halbrook in 1984 when the University of New Mexico Press published his first book,That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right.  Since Halbrook had both a Ph.D. in philosophy and a law degree, my expectations were high.  I was not disappointed.  Moreover, by the time I...

Chinese Exclusion
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Chinese Exclusion

Five years ago, the California state legislature voted to apologize to the Chinese for former laws that discriminated against them, including the federal government’s Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which California congressmen championed.  The apology bill was sponsored by state assembly members Paul Fong and Kevin de León.  Fong said he was not planning on...

The Long Sadness
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The Long Sadness

William Ball was just shy of 19 and living in the town of Souris on the prairies of Canada when war erupted in Europe in August 1914.  The region was still something of a frontier, devoted to trapping and trading with Indians, and inhabited by hearty, adventurous types, Ball among them.  On a bet, he...

Operation Tidal Wave
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Operation Tidal Wave

It seems that Benghazi is remembered today only for the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission there.  In the 1940’s and 50’s, though, it was known for launching the planes that conducted Operation Tidal Wave, a brilliant example of the heroism of American airmen, and an equally brilliant example of Murphy’s Law.  The former...

Bear Flag Revolt
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Bear Flag Revolt

Most Americans have no idea that California was once an independent republic and came into the Union, like Texas, without going through a territorial stage.  This is symbolized by California’s state seal, which features Minerva, who sprang from Jupiter’s head fully formed.  During the 1950’s we Golden State schoolchildren were taught all about our Bear...

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The Mexican War

It’s popular in academe today to describe the Mexican War as an example of an aggressive and expansive colossus beating up on a weak neighbor, but that was not the case in 1846.  The war was really a second phase of the Texas Revolution.  Most people don’t understand that Mexico never recognized Texas independence.  It...

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Japan’s Prelude to Pearl Harbor

Was Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor out of character for the chrysanthemum nation?  Her actions at Port Arthur, nearly 38 years earlier, suggest otherwise. In 1898 Russia began leasing the Liaotung Peninsula, which juts into the Yellow Sea between China and the Korean Peninsula, from the Chinese.  On the southern tip of the Liaotung...

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A Different Hollywood

We’ve all heard it dozens of times after another disappointed moviegoer leaves the theater: “They don’t make ’em like they used to.”  One reason is the absence today of the kind of men who once made the movies.  Try this test yourself: Think of a few of your favorite movies, and then identify the directors,...

Old Route 66
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Old Route 66

Now, I’m a poor Oakie and I’m heading out west. I’m pulling a long trailer and my car’s doing its best. We hit a long mountain and she began to boil. She blew a head gasket and it started dripping oil. The wheels is out of balance, she shimmies and she shakes. But it keeps...

Bob Mathias
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Bob Mathias

One of the greatest Olympians of all time, Bob Mathias, is all but forgotten today.  He was born in 1930 in Tulare, in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley.  Robert Bruce Mathias was his name, but everyone called him Bob. Bob had extraordinary coordination from infancy onward.  Although plagued by anemia, which caused him...

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Music That Stirs the Soul

A favorite time for me at John Randolph Club annual meetings is the songfest.  Invariably, there is someone in attendance who can sit down at the piano and play all the great, old American tunes that were once familiar to several generations of Americans.  The melodies stir my soul.  The accompanying lyrics evoke memories of...

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Tiburcio Vásquez

During the last four decades, California has been proving that demography is indeed destiny.  At an ever-accelerating rate the state is becoming Mexifornia.  So many Mexicans have flooded into California, nearly all illegally, that instead of the new arrivals assimilating to American culture they are Hispanicizing the state.  This means far more than ballots in...

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The Patton You Didn’t Know

Thanks to the movie, most Americans are familiar with George Patton—the crusty, outspoken, and brilliantly aggressive general of World War II fame.  Yet few know of his exploits as a young officer.  There is nothing about Patton’s early career in any of our standard history textbooks, an omission that is unfortunate.  At one time we...

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John Wayne and World War II

Ever since I can remember, John Wayne has been the actor the left most loves to hate.  While the left’s criticisms of him are many, the one that seemed to have the most validity was his failure to serve his country during World War II.  “He’s a big phony,” I was told by leftist classmates...

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Ace of Aces: Richard Bong

He was an all-American boy who became an American hero in World War II.  Born in 1920 to a father who, at the age of five, had immigrated to the United States with his family from Sweden and an American-born mother of Irish, Scottish, and English descent, Dick Bong was reared on a farm a...

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The Battle off Samar

One would think that a battle called the most gallant in the history of the U.S. Navy would be prominently featured in our textbooks.  Not only does the Battle off Samar in the Philippine Sea on October 25, 1944, go unmentioned in schoolbooks, but it’s rare for anyone under 60 even to have heard of...

Stand Your Ground
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Stand Your Ground

Bodie, July 1881—The early morning hours found deputy constables Richard O’Malley and James Monahan patrolling the streets of the mining town of more than 5,000 residents in mountains immediately east of the Sierra.  Bob Watson and George Center happened by.  A young miner, Center was “quiet when sober,” said the Daily Free Press, “but when...

The Shot Heard Round the World
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The Shot Heard Round the World

While nearly all my college students had heard of Lexington and Concord and the first battle of our Revolutionary War, only rarely did any of them know why the British were marching on the small Massachusetts towns. During the summer of 1774, Gen. Thomas Gage, supported by a squadron of the Royal Navy and five...

Man of Honor
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Man of Honor

Ralph Walker Willis was a fireman, the author of five books, including My Life as a Jarhead (1999), and a contributor to Chronicles, but most of all he was a Marine.  He was related to the famous mountain man Joe Walker, and, like Walker, Ralph was a tall, strapping fellow with a booming voice.  He...

Same Border, Different America
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Same Border, Different America

For the last several years Texas farmers and ranchers whose lands butt up against the Rio Grande have complained about cross-border raids by thugs of Mexican drug cartels.  “It’s a war.  Make no mistake about it,” said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.  “And it’s happening on American soil.”  Staples thinks the bountiful productivity of the...

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The Tuskegee Airmen

If you think political correctness is a recent phenomenon in America, then the longtime promulgation and perpetuation of distortions and falsehoods concerning the Tuskegee Airmen should disabuse you of such a notion. The very creation of the group was an attempt by President Franklin Roosevelt to showcase blacks in the war effort, which was dominated...

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Divine Wind

Many Americans today are left aghast at Adm. William F. Halsey’s admonition to U.S. forces in the Pacific: “Kill Japs.  Kill Japs.  Kill More Japs!  You will help to kill the yellow bastards if you do your job well.”  Yet those who fought through the island campaigns fully appreciated Halsey’s words, realizing the only way...

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Bombing the West Coast

The “Battle of Los Angeles,” or the Great Los Angeles Air Raid, occurred during the early morning hours of February 25, 1942.  It has been portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s 1979 slapstick comedy 1941, starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.  The farcical movie is about all younger generations today know of the Battle of Los Angeles...

The Betsy Ross of California
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The Betsy Ross of California

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed legislation requiring public schools to teach students about the contributions of “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.”  When I was young, we were taught about men and, yes, women in California, not because of their “sexual orientation” but because they were figures of substance and significance.  One of my favorites...

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James Arness

Early in June, James Arness died.  Everyone thinks of him as Matt Dillon, the brave and incorruptible town marshal of Dodge City in the television series Gunsmoke.  I think of him as the father of one of my childhood friends and as one of the last actors in Hollywood to have fought in World War...

New Tricks
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New Tricks

Steven Farron, who earned a Ph.D. at Columbia University and was a professor of classics for many years at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, has produced a masterly volume on the thorny subject of what is euphemistically termed affirmative action.  It doesn’t seem that an article, a book, or a collection...

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Chuck Older

Recently, a younger acquaintance of mine, an actor on stage and screen, mentioned with disgust the circus-like atmosphere that pervaded the trial of O.J. Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife.  I noted that early on in the trial, Judge Lance Ito simply lost control of the proceedings, and the “Dream Team” of defense attorneys...

Suicide by (Legal) Immigration
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Suicide by (Legal) Immigration

I was fortunate to grow up before the Immigration Act of 1965 began an incremental and insidious change in the ethnic composition of America.  I had friends whose parents were immigrants.  I thought nothing much of it because the parents had all come from countries in Northern or Western Europe and almost immediately became indistinguishable...

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Jumpin’ Jim Gavin

Like most kids I loved reading about Americans who rose from nothing to greatness.  When I got to college and encountered my first left-wing history professor, I learned that Horatio Alger characters were pure myth—except I had already read and heard about dozens of them.  One of my favorites was Jumpin’ Jim Gavin, the heroic...

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The Fighting Marine: Gene Tunney

Though he beat Jack Demp­sey decisively the two times they met in the ring, was undefeated as a heavyweight, and retired as heavyweight champion, Gene Tunney is often forgotten when today’s era of fight fans or others discuss the greatest heavyweights.  Political correctness doesn’t allow us to forget black champions such as Jack Johnson, although...

Celebrity Politicians, Savvy Sergeants
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Celebrity Politicians, Savvy Sergeants

“We need another Reagan.” I’ve heard that too many times to count.  Don’t get me wrong: I think another Reagan would be a good start—but only a start.  Everyone should recall that Reagan, even during the six years that the Republicans held the Senate, was able to do little to trim back the size of...

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Dan Daly

A friend recently sent me an e-mail with a link to YouTube.  A click took me to a tribute to Col. Bob Howard, broadcast by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams upon Howard’s death just before Christmas 2009.  Howard is one of our most decorated heroes, his courageous and brilliant acts in combat worthy of...

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The Man Who Won the Revolution

Every history textbook has a paragraph or more devoted to Crispus Attucks, who, besides being half black and half Indian and one of those killed in the Boston Massacre, was of little historical significance.  Nearly everything else said about him is a matter of speculation.  In these same textbooks there is no mention of Timothy...

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Double Down: Illegal Aliens and Crime

For too long now I have heard that illegal immigrants are not criminals and that they have come to America only to work. Not really. Whether or not they want to work, they have already committed a crime by illegally entering the United States. I am still ...

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Red Cloud’s War

The Oglala Sioux chief Red Cloud is generally portrayed as someone who chewed up the U.S. Army in battle after battle.  He was, in the words of one author, “the first and only Indian leader in the West to win a war with the United States.”  This conclusion is based on the Army’s decision to...

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Arizona’s Got Sand

On October 26, 1881, a gunfight erupted in a vacant lot on Fremont Street in Tombstone, Arizona, that would go down in history as the Shootout at the OK Corral.  Virgil, Wyatt, and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday stood on one side, and Tom and Frank McLaury and Ike and Billy Clanton on the other. ...