I served in the USAF during the Kennedy administration. I must respond to Donald Trump’s statements denigrating our military. Before I do, I salute syndicated columnist Dana Milbank, whose September 14th article in the H-D covered this subject in considerable detail.

          In presidential campaigns military service is of major interest.  Lack of service (i.e. shirking and/or avoiding service by way of deferments), has always been a “black mark” for any nominee. Trump is getting a pass!

          From the administration of FDR to George H. W. Bush, nine presidents prior to Clinton were veterans–in several cases, decorated veterans. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were plagued not only by their lack of service, but with the machinations they employed to avoid it.

L. Milton Hankins, Editor

L. Milton Hankins, Editor

         While I served, I was involved, in a small role, with the July 9, 1962 detonation of a “thermonuclear warhead…creating a suborbital nuclear detonation 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean. Witnesses from Hawaii to New Zealand were treated to a carnival of color as the sky was illuminated in magnificent rainbow stripes and an artificial aurora borealis. With a yield of 1.45 megatons, the hydrogen bomb was approximately 100 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima 17 years before.”

          I observed this detonation from Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii with observers from around the globe.  It was then that I realized the military strength of the United States is enormous and awesome!

          Before that occasion, I received a secret briefing on the U-2 “spy” plane which would shortly make headline news when the USSR downed the U-2 and captured its pilot, Francis Gary Powers. For nearly four years, the Soviets had been powerless to stop the U-2 flights because the planes flew “more than 13 miles above the ground” and were unreachable until the USSR “developed a new Zenith surface-to-air missile with a longer range.”   

          As early as the 1960s, I knew the incredible might of the U.S. military.  It was therefore an affront when Donald Trump said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do.” Hillary Clinton responded, “He thinks that he knows more than our military because he claimed our armed forces are ‘a disaster.'”

Clinton went on to say, “Well, I’ve had the privilege to work closely with our troops and our veterans for many years, including as a senator on the Armed Services Committee and I know how wrong he is.  Our military is a national treasure.”

During the Commander-in-Chief Forum, Trump said our “U.S. generals under the Obama Administration have been ‘reduced to rubble’ and to a ‘point where it’s embarrassing for our country.’” Wounded Iraq veteran Staff Sgt. Robert Bartlett responded by saying that Trump is due for a “rude awakening on a lot of things that he’s said.”

We would all come to a “rude awakening” if we only knew all about the ability of our military to protect and defend our country against all foreign and domestic enemies.  I have no doubts, whatsoever, and neither should you!


Personal experience with nuclear test over Pacific.  Also, consulted “Going Nuclear over the Pacific” by Gilbert King, Aug 15, 2012. Smithsonian.com

Personal briefing on U-2.  Also, consulted “U-2 Spy Incident” at History.com

Clinton response to Trump on military – Speech, Friday, Jul 29, 2016 reported by C. Eugene Emery, Jr. in Politifact.

“reduced to rubble” and Sgt. Bartlett response – insider.foxnews.com