The Saturday Morning Memo.

November 11, 2017 | Posted in General

 

To be clear, I am well aware that nothing gets solved in this blog.

This space wasn’t set up as a platform for as an exchange of ideas that can create changes that can be implemented bringing about solutions to the ills of society, the pandering of politics or the absurdity of human behavior.

So, while I know absolutely zero change will come from my words this morning, I will type them anyway, a protest of sorts against what has felt to me like a slow slide from our ability to discern what reality consists of that is part of our undoing as human beings.

I’ve been stewing on this particular subject for years, and as the profits grow from video games that have “war” as their subject, so does my anger, angst and disgust with it all.

Today the vast landfill of Facebook is filled with images and thanks for and to our veterans. I have done my fair share adding to the piles, the one time a year I can haul out my USCG stuff and remember when I was a lean, mean Coastie machine and thank those who I served with and those who have served.

I served in peace time, didn’t have to face an enemy hiding in the jungle or burrowed in a bunker with at .50 raining lead on me at the age of 19.

But I know and have known men who have had that experience and far, far worse. They came home dragging Pearl Harbor, The Battle of The Bulge, Iwo Jima, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan with them.

Nothing jacks up my shorts more than seeing a commercial for “Call of Duty” on the tube and the billions of dollars made on the backs of veterans and the bodies of those who did not come home.

Its obscene to me as a vet to see this description- “Call of Duty: WWII is a first-person shooter video game developed by Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision. It is the fourteenth main installment in the Call of Duty series and was released worldwide on November 3, 2017. It is the first title in the series to be set primarily during World War II since Call of Duty: World at War in 2008. The game is set in the European theatre, and is centered around a squad in the 1st Infantry Division, following their battles on the Western Front, and set mainly in the historical events of Operation Overlord; the multiplayer expands to different fronts not seen in the campaign.”

Oh cool, “the player” sitting in his bedroom with a multi-control device instead of an M-1 rifle can “expand” to different fronts not seen in the real campaign that took place.

“Operation Overlord” is another name for “The Invasion of Normandy.”

Between 6 June 1944 and the end of August, the American armies suffered 124,394 casualties, of whom 20,668 were killed. The Allied air forces, having flown 480,317 sorties in support of the invasion, lost 4,101 aircraft and 16,714 airmen (8,536 members of the USAAF, and 8,178 flying under the command of the RAF).

In WW II the famed 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) that the game is based on suffered 20,659 casualties, had 3,616 KIA, 15,208 wounded, 499 MIA and 1,336 POW’s.

WWII is the first title since the original game and “Call of Duty 2: Big Red One” not to feature “health regeneration” in the campaign. Instead, players must find “health packs” scattered throughout levels, or rely on their medic squad mate to provide “health packs.” Other members of the player’s squad can provide ammunition, grenades, call in mortar strikes, or spot enemies and reveal their position in form of silhouettes. In certain sections of the game, enemy soldiers in the campaign can be captured, and wounded allies can be dragged to cover. In some parts of the campaign, players are able to control vehicles.

Wow how cool is that! Control vehicles right from the comfort of your gaming chair! Virtually pull the wounded to safety while stuffing down a candy bar!

Nothing in the game about GI’s being tortured, cut in half on the beach, never making it off the transport, holding each other’s guts in calling for a medic or blown to bits so small they would never be found.

I wonder how much those 19 and 20-year old kids on Omaha Beach would have given for “health regeneration” or their medic could give them a “health pack” so they could put their mangled arms and legs back in place and keep heading into enemy fire.

In “Call of Duty” the “shooter” faces “Zombie Nazi’s.”

At The Battle of the Bulge, they faced…you know…REAL Nazi’s. Out of 610,000 troops involved in the battle, 89,000 were casualties. While some sources report that up to 19,000 were killed, Eisenhower’s personnel chief put the number at about 8,600. It was the largest and bloodiest battle fought by the United States in World War II.

Again… “heath regeneration” was not an option.

Fair to mention that “Call of Duty: Vietnam” was cancelled.

Not because it would be a controversy over perhaps our most difficult and divisive war, but because the company needed help finishing “Call of Duty 3: Modern Warfare” and had just experienced a major loss of employees due to firings and departures.

In real life, there were 58,220 permanent departures that are etched in stone on The Vietnam Wall. “Firing” meant something very different.

The masterminds behind these “games” are Glen A. Schofield who is trained in both fine arts and business, earning a BFA from Pratt Institute and an MBA from Golden Gate University. His influence is felt in “Gunstar Hero” and a bunch of other stuff I’ve never heard of. Michael Condrey graduated in 1997 from the University of Washington. The following year, his senior thesis on applying biotechnology to conservation biology was published in the Molecular Ecology. After serving as scuba diving instructor and boat captain in the Cayman Islands, he began work on a graduate degree in Seattle. It was there that launched his game development career, beginning with a summer job at Electronic Arts during the peak of Seattle’s gaming explosion.

Neither one of these guys ever went to boot camp, put on a uniform, stood at attention during the raising or lowering of the colors, ate sand in Afghanistan or carried out a wounded buddy in Nam or took enemy fire in Iraq.

My longtime friends Greg and Debi Daniels lost their son Nick in Afghanistan on November 5th, 2011-six years ago.

When I heard the news, I went to the funeral in Chicago that was framed by the USMC Honor Guard at each end of the flag draped casket that held their boy inside. There was no sound at all in the room as I stood off to the side, watching my friend, this hulking 6’6 football player with his broad shoulders hunched in pain, and his wife, Nick’s mom next to him, forever changed.

Nick Daniels was 25 years young.

War is no game…and its all based on the fact that the human mind has a hard time discerning reality from “virtual reality.”

These “games” have grossed over $10 billion dollars since 2003 and are played by millions of mostly young men giving them “the thrill of combat,” the adrenaline rush of “the kill” and the ability to “regenerate their health” and continue fighting “zombie nazi’s” and simply turn it off, and return a few hours later without ever having to actually put their lives on the line.

For Nicky there was no returning a few hours later to start over again, and for the Daniels, there is no turning if off.

Today, 22 veterans will take their own life.

I didn’t see that option in “Call of Duty.”

Far as I can tell…not a single dime from their profits has gone to veteran’s issues, care or consideration. I hope that I am wrong and just missed where they donate millions to veterans and their families…because you know they get all that “real life action” royalty free.

Their tag line is “GREATNESS AWAITS” and it will only cost you $59.99 at Walmart.

But for some the cost is much, much higher.

For the record, if by some remote chance you think I should lighten up and just see these as “games” and for what some suggest they are, harmless entertainment that kids will grow out of…I’ll be happy to discuss it with you on the 5th floor of the VA or in the military section of your local cemetery.

Semper Paratus
JSA

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