TIME Iraq

ISIS Suicide Attacks Against Iraqi Army Kill 17

isis-attack-sandstorm-ramadi-iraq
AP In this May 14, 2015 file photo, security forces defend their headquarters against attacks by Islamic State extremists during a sandstorm in the eastern part of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, Iraq.

The attacks came after the Iraqi government announced an operation against ISIS

(BAGHDAD)—Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) extremists unleashed a wave of suicide attacks targeting the Iraqi army in western Anbar province, killing at least 17 troops in a major blow to government efforts to dislodge the militants from the sprawling Sunni heartland, an Iraqi military spokesman said Wednesday.

The attacks came just hours after the Iraqi government on Tuesday announced the start of a wide-scale operation to recapture areas under the control of the ISIS group in Anbar.

Brig. Gen Saad Maan Ibrahim, the spokesman for the Joint Military Command, told The Associated Press the attacks took place outside the Islamic State-held city of Fallujah late Tuesday night.

The militants struck near a water control station and a lock system on a canal between Lake Tharthar and the Euphrates River where army forces have been deployed for the Anbar offensive, he said.

Ibrahim added that the Islamic State extremists used a sandstorm that engulfed most of Iraq on Tuesday night to launch the deadly wave of bombings. He said it was not clear how many suicide attackers were involved in the bombings but they hit the military from multiple directions.

Last month, the water station near Fallujah fell into the hands of Islamic State militants — following attacks that also included multiple suicide bombings and that killed a general commanding the 1st Division and a dozen other officers and soldiers, he said.

Iraqi government forces recaptured the station a few days later. Fallujah lies to the east of the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi, which was captured by the Islamic State militants nearly two weeks ago in what was a major, humiliating defeat for Iraqi troops at the hands of the extremists.

The Iraqi operation to retake Anbar, which is said to be backed by Shiite militias and Sunni pro-government fighters, is deemed critical in regaining momentum in the fight against the Islamic State.

The extremists captured Ramadi in Iraq and the Syrian ancient town of Palmyra earlier this month, showing that it is able to advance in both countries despite months of U.S.-led airstrikes. Capt. Andrew Caulk, a U.S. Air Force spokesman in Qatar, told the AP it will continue to provide air support “to government-controlled Iraqi forces” throughout the country, including near Ramadi, where it has been carrying out airstrikes for several months.

Syria’s foreign minister said Wednesday that his government is not pinning any hopes on the U.S.-led coalition striking at Islamic State group militants in his country.

At a news conference in Damascus, Walid al-Moallem said the coalition was active in preventing the Kurdish town of Kobani from falling to the extremists last year but that this support seems to have “evaporated” after that.

The United States did nothing to prevent the ancient town of Palmyra in Syria or the province of Anbar in Iraq from falling into their hands, he said.

“We’re not pinning any hopes on that alliance and anyone who does is living an illusion,” al-Moallem added.

Al-Moallem also said Iraq and Syria were fighting the same battle but added that security coordination between their two armies “has not reached the desired levels.”

Also Wednesday, Syrian activists said the Islamic State group released two elderly Christian women who had been held along with dozens of others since February in northeastern Syria.

At the time, they kidnapped more than 220 Assyrian Christians after overrunning several farming communities on the southern bank of the Khabur River in Hassakeh province.

The two women, who are 70 and 75 years old, were released on Tuesday and have now reached the northwestern city of Hassakeh, said Osama Edwards, director of the Assyrian Network for Human Rights.

Another activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the two were likely released because of their poor health. Some of the captives had been released previously.

Edwards said the Islamic State group is still holding 210 Assyrian Christians and is demanding $100,000 for each hostage.

___

Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

TIME Veterans

How to Preserve America’s War Stories Before It’s Too Late

Dennis Martin
Dennis Keith Martin Collection / Library of Congress / Veterans History Project Dennis Martin seated, in Vietnam, ca. 1970

The Library of Congress is collecting the country's first-hand accounts of war

On June 19, 1970, Dennis Keith Martin, a U.S. Army Corporal stationed in Vietnam, wrote a letter to his grandparents. “We are hearing a lot of rumors that the 25th Division or at least part of it will be the next to be withdrawn,” he wrote, at the close of the two-page note. “We are all hoping to be involved in it but I am certainly not going to hold my breath.”

Martin was killed in action that July. Monday will be the 44th Memorial Day since then. But his letters and photographs, like the one seen here, are very much alive.

That’s because Martin’s sister, Barbara, donated them to the Veterans History Project (VHP) of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which has made them available online. The VHP was created by an act of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000. In the 15 years since, the project has collected nearly 100,000 oral histories from veterans and their families, as well as the families of those remembered each Memorial Day. More than 15,000 of those stories and documents, the first-hand accounts of conflicts from World War I to the present day, can be accessed online.

“I feel like my brother’s experience, like so many other thousands, millions, of people in warfare—it’s such a great loss, and what for? Seeing his letters there it gives some meaning to what happened,” Barbara Martin, who is now a musician in Waynesboro, Va., says. “I think that a lot of times people have a skewed viewpoint of what war really is. I think anything that can show people this is what it really is, this is the horror of it, this is the reality of it, is a very good thing.”

The VHP has done just that for people like Hetal Shah.

Shah is a 19-year-old college student in Aliso Viejo, Calif., who has been volunteering to collect oral histories for the VHP since she was 15. (Anyone can do those interviews, by downloading the how-to kit from the Library of Congress). The very first interview she did for the project was with a World War II vet who told a story of deciding not to shoot a hungry Japanese man despite orders to shoot the enemy on sight.

“When he was saying this story he was crying, not because of the man’s situation but rather because he disobeyed the orders of his commander,” Shah recalls. “That’s when it really hit me how complex war is for soldiers and all the people involved. He mentioned his family and all the struggles they faced while he was away. It made war more complex for me and it gave me all of these different perspectives that I could never learn from my history class.”

Shah has come to see her VHP interviews as something of an urgent mission. The stories of World War I that have made it to the VHP have done so through family members, the same way the stories of men and women like Dennis Martin, who were killed in action, got there. But those veterans who made it home from war are full of stories that have yet to be collected.

“I’ll never get to hear the story of a World War I veteran from his or her point of view. We lose that every time that veteran passes on, we lose their stories with them,” she says. “If veterans are not interviewed before they pass on then no one else will be able to get that same perspective and story from them. It’s very important for us to continue doing this project so that everybody, no matter when it was in history, can know how it really was.”

Her message is exactly what the VHP’s backers hope the project offers. “It’s a resource for the country in the sense that it gives us a way of tying into and understanding the experiences of Veterans, as we think about the country, as we think about the future, and as we think about future military engagements,” says William “Bro” Adams, who is chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities—which is partnering with the Library of Congress to encourage veterans and the families of those killed in action to get involved with the project—and also a Vietnam veteran whose own stories are now part of the VHP archive. “These kinds of stories really give you a sense of things that no other form of recollection can give you.”

TIME conflict

Fall of Ramadi to ISIS Raises Doubts About U.S. Strategy in Iraq

IRAQ-CONFLICT
Ahmad Al-Rubaye—AFP/Getty Images An Iraqi soldier fires at ISIS positions in the Garma district of Anbar province of Iraq on May 19, 2015.

"Right now, it looks like we're going to see a lot of trouble in the Middle East for a long time"

(WASHINGTON)—The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria’s capture of Ramadi, a key provincial capital in western Iraq, calls into question the Obama administration’s strategy in Iraq.

Is there a Plan B?

The current U.S. approach is a blend of retraining and rebuilding the Iraqi army, prodding Baghdad to reconcile with the nation’s Sunnis, and bombing Islamic State targets from the air without committing American ground combat troops.

But the rout in Ramadi revealed a weak Iraqi army, slow reconciliation and a bombing campaign that, while effective, is not decisive.

On Monday, administration officials acknowledged the fall of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, as a “setback.” They still maintained, however, the campaign would ultimately bring victory. They counseled patience and said periodic setbacks are to be expected in confronting the Islamic State.

But anything close to a victory appeared far off.

Derek Harvey, a retired Army colonel and former Defense Intelligence Agency military intelligence officer who served multiple tours in Iraq, says that while the extremist group has many problems and weaknesses, it is “not losing” in the face of ineffective Sunni Arab opposition.

“They are adaptive and they remain well armed and well resourced,” Harvey said. “The different lines of operation by the U.S. coalition remain disjointed, poorly resourced and lack an effective operational framework, in my view.”

One alternative for the Obama administration would be a containment strategy — trying to fence in the conflict rather than push the Islamic State group out of Iraq. That might include a combination of airstrikes and U.S. special operations raids to limit the group’s reach. In fact, a Delta Force raid in Syria on Friday killed an IS leader known as Abu Sayyaf who U.S. officials said oversaw the group’s oil and gas operations, a major source of funding.

Officials have said containment might become an option but is not under active discussion now.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a written statement Monday that suggested Ramadi will trigger no change in the U.S. approach.

“Setbacks are regrettable but not uncommon in warfare,” Dempsey said. “Much effort will now be required to reclaim the city.”

It seems highly unlikely that President Barack Obama would take the more dramatic route of sending ground combat forces into Iraq to rescue the situation in Ramadi or elsewhere. A White House spokesman, Eric Shultz, said Monday the U.S. will continue its support through airstrikes, advisers and trainers; he pointed to an intensified series of coalition air assaults in the Ramadi area, which included eight strikes overnight Sunday.

The administration has said repeatedly that it does not believe Iraq can be stabilized for the long term unless Iraqis do the ground fighting.

Ramadi may not be the most important prize in Iraq but it carries special significance to many in the American military because it was the scene of bloody battles against insurgents, costing many U.S. lives before the city was pacified in 2006-07.

Pentagon officials insisted Monday the current U.S. approach to combating IS in Iraq is still viable and that the loss of Ramadi was merely part of the ebb and flow of war, not a sign that the Islamic State had exposed a fatal weakness in the Iraqi security forces and the U.S. strategy.

“We will retake Ramadi,” said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. The timing, he added, will be up to the Iraqi government.

Analysts are skeptical. Stephen Biddle, a George Washington University professor of political science who periodically advised U.S. commanders in Iraq during the 2003-2011 war, said Obama has been trying to split the Sunni tribes away from the Islamic State while pressing the Iraqi government to foster and rely on non-sectarian military forces.

“That’s clearly not working, or at least it’s not making the progress we had hoped it would make,” Biddle said.

“We don’t really have a strategy at all,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in an appearance Tuesday on MSNBC. “We’re basically playing this day by day.”

Gates, who headed the Pentagon for Obama as well as President George W. Bush’s administration before that, said “right now, it looks like they’re (Iraq) going the way of Yugoslavia. … Right now, it looks like we’re going to see a lot of trouble in the Middle East for a long time.”

The Institute for the Study of War, which closely tracks developments in Iraq, said Ramadi was a key Islamic State victory.

“This strategic gain constitutes a turning point in ISIS’ ability to set the terms of battle in Anbar as well to project force in eastern Iraq,” the institute said.

The full implication of Ramadi’s fall is hard to define. But it almost certainly includes not only suffering for Ramadi’s residents but also a delay in any Iraqi push to retake Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq and an Islamic State stronghold since last June.

U.S. officials had said as recently as February that they hoped the Iraqis would be ready to march on Mosul by April or May, but those hopes had faded even before Ramadi was lost.

___

Associated Press writer Nedra Pickler contributed to this report.

TIME Media

Read the TIME Essay That Advocated for the Vietnam War

US Marines landing in Da Nang.  (Photo b
Larry Burrows—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty US Marines landing in Da Nang in 1965

Fifty years ago, the magazine made the case for it being 'the right war at the right time'

It’s easy to forget now, 40 years after the Fall of Saigon and freshly removed from the prospect of Iraq and Afghanistan lapsing into “another Vietnam,” that there was a time when many believed that escalation in Vietnam was the right thing to do. Among the prominent voices who felt that way were the editors of TIME who, 50 years ago today, on May 14, 1965, published an influential essay backing the President’s decision to step up the ground campaign in Asia. It was, the headline proclaimed, “The Right War at the Right Time”:

Obviously, after overcoming his early hesitation, Lyndon Johnson will not allow the U.S. to be pushed out of Viet Nam. For if that were to happen, Americans would only have to make another stand against Asian Communism later, under worse conditions and in less tenable locations. As Demosthenes said about expansionist Macedonia in the 4th century B.C.: “You will be wise to defend yourselves now, but if you let the opportunity pass, you will not be able to act even if you want to.” Despite all its excruciating difficulties, the Vietnamese struggle is absolutely inescapable for the U.S. in the mid-60s—and in that sense, it is the right war in the right place at the right time.

Anticipating counterarguments, the essay swatted away objections. An American offensive wouldn’t be interfering with a civil war because Communism was a worldwide issue. South Vietnam’s continued fighting was indication that they wanted help. Once Communism was entrenched, it was nearly impossible to get rid of. A Communist Vietnam would seek to dominate the region. There was no evidence that U.S. involvement would draw in China or Russia. Events in Asia did matter to American interests. And, finally, there was no value in negotiating with Communists. All in all, the essay concluded, the critics of the war had no ground on which to stand.

The magazine would later change its perspective. In recent conversations about the war, former TIME Saigon bureau chief Peter Ross Range said that he sensed a shift after the Tet Offensive in 1968. “We were all news reporters, but I think there was a shared attitude, a widely shared attitude especially among younger correspondents like me, that the war was not a good thing,” he said. “It was never discussed openly at the magazine but if you read the magazine over time, over the last year before I went, you would get very much the same feeling.”

Years later, after the end of the Cold War, another TIME essay revisited the idea, positing that though the Cold War may have been the right war, Vietnam was the wrong battle—and, the piece concluded, the consequences of that wrong decision would continue to be felt for many years to come.

Read the full 1965 essay, here in the TIME Vault: The Right War at the Right Time

TIME language

This Is the Speech That Made Winston Churchill’s Career

Winston Churchill
Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives the speech on the BBC that he just delivered at the House of Commons : "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat..."

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat," he said

A full 75 years after the “Blood, Toil, Tears, Sweat” speech was delivered by Winston Churchill — on May 13, 1940 — it remains one of the most famous of his prolific career. Which is only appropriate, as it was the speech that set the course for his historic leadership of Britain during World War II.

Here’s what happened: Until mere days before the speech was delivered, Churchill wasn’t Prime Minister. He was First Lord of the Admiralty and, in fact, a “longtime political enemy” of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, per TIME’s account in 1940.

The previous month, British forces had responded to a Nazi incursion in Norway with all confidence of success. “Instead, all the pushing—and a lot of punching, hammering, rushing and blasting—had been done by the Germans. It was the British who went out backwards, faster than they had come in,” TIME reported two weeks later. Chamberlain, called to account for the failure, merely reassured his country that, though the military operation had been a total failure, at least the retreat had been successful. His statements that it hadn’t been a total disaster were met with derision; many called for him to resign if he could not promise stronger action.

Though Chamberlain begged his parliamentary colleagues to remain unified in the face of the enemy, his case had little heft in light of recent events. When Churchill spoke, he also asked for unity—but he admitted that Norway was a failure, and galvanized support with his candor and confidence. The Labour party refused to join a national coalition government unless Churchill was in charge of it.

Churchill took office as Prime Minister on May 10, 1940. On the 13th, he delivered that famous speech, as TIME reported:

As soon as he had made up his Cabinet he appeared before the House and, mincing no words, told it what was in store for Britain: “If you ask what is our policy, it is to wage war by sea, land and air with all our might,” said Winston Churchill. “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” The House gave him a 381-to-0 vote of confidence and Neville Chamberlain smiled a tight-lipped smile.

His words established a new British attitude toward the growing conflict—and a reputation that would keep him in the Prime Minister’s office through the end of the war in Europe.

Indeed, the speech was so effective that, in 2003, TIME named included it on a list of 80 days that changed the world. “The opposition Labour Party would serve in a government of national unity only if it were led by Churchill, and on the evening of May 10, as German troops massed against France, he accepted office from King George VI,” wrote TIME’s Michael Elliott. “Three days later, Churchill promised Britain only ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat.’ What he gave his country, above all, was leadership.”

Read the full 1940 story here, in the TIME Vault: Warlord for Peacemaker

TIME Holidays

V-E Day Was Last Week. Here’s Why Some Countries Celebrate Today Instead

Victory day, World War II, USSR, 1945. Artist: Anon
Heritage Images—Getty Images A woman celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany with members of the victorious Soviet Red Army in 1945. Found in the collection of the Moscow Photo Museum.

Victory Day in Russia and its neighbors is celebrated on May 11 this year

It took years of fighting to drive the German forces to surrender in World War II, and it took days to make that surrender official. As TIME reported in early May of 1945, a German official and the Associated Press both announced that the surrender had been signed on May 7, but for some reason the story was not yet confirmed by Allied officials:

Downing Street was mum; the White House was coy and confused. Best guess was that Joe Stalin had held up the joint announcement either because: 1) his Ukrainian armies still faced a small segment of determined Nazis in Moravia, or 2) he was not yet ready to set off Russia‘s victory celebration. Finally, from London, came word that the official announcement would come the following day. Thus, for the history books, May 8, 1945, became V-E day.

When that day came, Winston Churchill stepped to a microphone in London. His rolling periods swept across the world by short wave. With deep emotion he said: “We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing, but let us not forget for a moment the toils and efforts that lie ahead. . . . Advance, Britain! Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King!”

From Moscow, for some unexplained reason, there was no immediate announcement.

Now, 70 years after that surrender, Moscow’s silence is no mystery.

As the New York Times explained that week, Stalin was unhappy that the surrender on May 7 had taken place at Reims rather than in Berlin, where Russian forces were in control. In fact, Stalin had only sent a lower-ranking general to witness the surrender in Reims, rather than sending a major representative of his power. So, though the May 7 surrender—which took effect on May 8, the date of V-E Day—was cause for celebration across the Allied world, Stalin wanted the news to wait until the surrender was officially ratified in the German capital; his stubbornness on that point was (accurately) seen by many as a hint of conflict to come between the former allies.

The official Berlin surrender took place late at night on May 8, the day after the Reims surrender; its text declared that it was signed just after midnight the following day, May 9. Besides, it had already been May 9 in Moscow for a few hours—and, accordingly, while American and European media might have celebrated the 70th anniversary of victory last Friday, Russia and many other former Soviet nations celebrated Victory Day on Saturday, with “Victory Day Observed” for a three-day weekend on Monday.

TIME Ukraine

On Patrol With One of Russia’s Most Wanted in the Battle for Ukraine

TIME embedded with the Dudaev Battalion led by commander Adam Osmaev, who is wanted in Russia on terrorism charges

Last year, the people of Ukraine realized that they had, in effect, no army to defend them. Their military had been too depleted by corruption and mismanagement to mount a defense when Russia sent troops to seize the region of Crimea in February 2014. Through the following spring, armed forces mostly stood by as Russia went on to fuel a separatist rebellion in Ukraine’s eastern regions, seizing effective control of more territory and large portions of the border with Ukraine. The so-called “volunteer battalions”—poorly trained but highly motivated militias—arose to fill the holes in Ukraine’s defenses.

Over the past year, dozens of these paramilitary groups have appeared on Ukraine’s battlefields, often bearing the brunt of the fighting against Russian-backed separatist forces. They consist of anywhere from a few dozen to a few thousand troops, and their more successful commanders often enjoy the status of national celebrities. But their place in the military hierarchy of Ukraine tends to be murky. Though they get much of their heavy weaponry from government stockpiles, they mostly operate in a legal grey zone, closer to guerrillas than national guards.

Earlier this year, TIME embedded with one of the more controversial of these groups—the Dudaev Battalion—which has been carrying out reconnaissance and sabotage behind enemy lines since the war began. About half of its troops are from foreign countries, meaning that, legally, they do not have the right to serve in Ukraine’s armed forces. But their commander Adam Osmaev, who is wanted in Russia on terrorism charges, now wants to merge his force with Ukraine’s defense ministry or national police—a move that would give him access to more weapons, he says, as well as a chance to get some Western military aid.

TIME movies

The True Story That Inspired One of the Biggest Films of the 1940s

Family Feud
RKO Pictures / Getty Images American actors Myrna Loy (left) and Teresa Wright with Fredric March in a still from the film, 'The Best Years of Our Lives,' directed by William Wyler.

The hit movie was inspired by a story in TIME

On the 70th anniversary of V-E Day, the thought of the end of World War II in Europe is likely to bring up images of packed public squares, celebrating soldiers and spontaneous kisses. But for thousands of soldiers returning from the battlefields of World War II, the reality was much different. Victory in combat was followed by lingering questions about how to adjust to a home front that was literally and figuratively miles away from the realities of war. In 1946, producer Samuel Goldwyn, Sr. took inspiration from a true story to create a blockbuster film on the topic. The movie is still surprisingly relevant today and, in fact, was inspired by an article in TIME.

Though Goldwyn is best known as the G in MGM, he had nothing to do with the company—it resulted from the acquisition of his production company, Goldwyn Pictures, in 1924. Rather, he was an independent producer on the make, transforming himself from Szmuel Gelbfisz, a Polish immigrant with an explosive temper, into one of Hollywood’s most influential producers. He is credited with 139 films, including Stella Dallas, Wuthering Heights and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. During his lifetime, he was immensely successful: Part of his legendary art collection, including pieces by Picasso and Matisse, will be sold at Sotheby’s this year.

And the movie inspired by a real-life group of soldiers was one of his biggest successes of all. In 1946, he was best known for The Best Years of Our Lives, a film that was the biggest of its day—and that explored the decidedly modern issue of how veterans readjust to life after war.

Goldwyn struck on the idea for the film when he read an Aug. 7, 1944, TIME feature called “The Way Home.” The piece followed a group of Marines packed onto a train they called the “Home Again Special,” which was tasked with returning them to their hometowns after 27 months of bloody battle at places like Guadalcanal. The train’s riders wonder what will greet them as they return home—ticker-tape parades? Tearful reunions? But the reality is something much different:

The men were up early, shining their shoes, polishing their buttons. As the train pulled into Baltimore at 6:30 a.m. there was a shout: “Bring on the brass band.” There was no band nor any people, and the homecoming marines got off and walked through the silent station.

Home. The final run began…

At Philadelphia, there was just a string of taxicabs, at Jersey City, just the ferry to Manhattan. The marines silently looked at the New York skyline. Lieut. Camille Tamucci, the tough guy in charge, who had been dreaming of mounds of spaghetti, began brooding about his stomach. “It’s all tied in knots,” he said…

One marine shouted: “See you in the next war.” There was no answer. The marines shouldered their sea bags and walked away.

Goldwyn had a son in the Army when the piece appeared. Moved by the piece and its portrayal of the uncertainties that would face soldiers returning from the war, his wife Frances urged her husband to consider making a movie about how veterans readjust to post-war life. “Every family in America is part of this story,” he mused, commissioning a writer to turn the idea from article into film. He eventually spent an estimated $2.1 million (about $19 million in today’s dollars) to make the film, enlisting the likes of Myrna Loy and Hoagie Carmichael for a moving story of trauma and triumph.

The movie offers a surprisingly nuanced take on the challenges faced by returning vets. Its director, William Wyler, had combat experience of his own. He convinced Goldwyn to take a chance on Harold Russell, an untested actor whom Wyler spotted in an Army film about veterans who lost limbs in combat. In real life, Russell was equipped with two metal hooks he used in place of both hands, which were blown up in an explosives accident. On film, he can be seen using the hooks to play piano, embrace his girlfriend and perform everyday tasks. When Russell’s character returns from war, the battle has only just begun—he must struggle to accept life with a physical handicap and his misgivings about the woman who loves him anyway.

“He is no actor and no one pretends that he is, but his performance is more affecting than any professional’s could be,” TIME wrote in its review of the film. “Unlike most sure-fire movies, it was put together with good taste, honesty, wit—and even a strong suggestion of guts.”

Goldwyn saved some of the triumph for himself—The Best Years of Our Lives was a box-office hit. The film sold an estimated 55 million tickets in the United States and another 20 million in the United Kingdom, making it the most successful box office draw since Gone With the Wind. It also took home eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.

But Russell, who came to represent the complicated toll that combat can take on veterans, was the real winner that night. He took home not one, but two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor and a special award “for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance.” He is one of only two non-professional actors ever to bring home an Oscar.

TIME World War II

How Eisenhower’s Granddaughters Learned About WWII

The former Commander in chief of the All
Al Muto—AFP/Getty Images Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower poses happily on October 14,1956 in the White House gardens on his 66th birthday for a family portrait with (from left) his wife, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, daughter-in-law, Mrs. John Eisenhower and the Eisenhower grandchildren Mary Jean, 10 months old, Susan Ann, 4, David, 8, and Barbara Ann, 7.

70 years after V-E Day, Mary Jean and Susan Eisenhower remember their grandfather

Correction appended, May 9.

Plenty of Americans have grown up hearing their grandfathers’ World War II stories. But, for Mary Jean and Susan Eisenhower, those stories could have—and actually have—filled many books.

That’s because their grandfather was Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during the war and later President of the United States. Not that he told many war stories to his granddaughters when they were young, though Susan does remember him showing her a large photograph of the invasion of Normandy in his Gettysburg College office when she was 8 or 9 years old.

Mainly, Mary Jean and Susan learned about Eisenhower’s war experience through books—especially his own. They both read At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends when it came out in 1967 (Mary Jean was only in about the fifth grade), and they learned many of his WWII stories in its pages.

Both women went on to work in professions related to their grandfather’s legacy; Mary Jean at People to People, an organization he founded, and Susan in national security, an arena where “many of the issues that are front and center [today] are impacted by decisions he made during his presidency,” she says. Their work gave them a deeper familiarity with his experiences during the war and beyond.

Still, they continued to learn new things about their grandfather’s life throughout their adulthoods. When Mary Jean was in her 30s, she learned about a note that had been found in his trashcan the month after the invasion of Normandy that he’d written to take responsibility in case D-Day failed, saying, “If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.” (He apparently carried similar notes during every major invasion he ordered.) “It turned my heart as soon as I saw it,” Mary Jean says.

When Germany officially surrendered on V-E Day, 70 years ago Friday, Eisenhower’s tone was not celebratory—the Pacific battle was not yet won, after all. “The strong overwhelming feeling apparently [held] by everyone at headquarters, starting with the Supreme Allied Commander, was one of exhaustion and a profound sense of sadness,” Susan says. She was moved when she read the statement her grandfather sent to George Marshall and President Truman, which simply said that the mission was accomplished.

“If you see pictures of granddad that day,” Mary Jean says, “and then see him 10 years later as president, 10 years older, he actually looks 20 years younger than he did on the day of surrender. Even thinking of this puts a lump in my throat, to think of what he went through.”

A new exhibit at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans—where the Eisenhowers participated in a panel on Thursday—called “Road to Berlin” highlights stories from the European theater in large part though personal effects, many from soldiers who died. Susan says this way of humanizing the war is “the greatest form of storytelling.” But when the women were children, their grandfather’s own personal effects from the war weren’t necessarily objects they were awed by, at least not much more than any other grandchild is awed by their grandparents’ household items.

They were aware, however, of the wartime connection the President known as “Ike” had to many of the men around him, including a chauffeur, Sgt. Leonard Dry (who had taken him to meet the 101st Airborne Division before the Normandy landings and airdrop) and his valet, Sgt. John Moaney (who was with him from the North African campaign until the end of both their lives). “We were very conscious of the fact that all these people went way back,” Susan says.

The women were taught to compartmentalize their views of their grandfather between the personal and the public. In fact, Mary Jean says she got to know four versions of Eisenhower over the years: “The military one, the presidential one, the knee-slapping one and the People to People one,” with the knee-slapping iteration being the warm man who made her count up coins in a piggy bank. In grade school when lessons about him came up, Susan says this compartmentalized mindset was especially important: “There was a period right after his presidency where his presidency was really misunderstood and getting torn down. He wouldn’t get up and brag and he didn’t draw attention to himself.”

As for Mary Jean, those lessons may have been a bit easier to brush off. “I have to confess I slept through most of my history classes,” she says. “I’d see the war pictures go up on the movie screen and it was like the sand man started beating me to death.”

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly described Sgt. Moaney’s role for Eisenhower. He was his valet.

TIME Yemen

Saudi Arabia, U.S. Plan 5-Day Ceasefire in Yemen

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, right, hold a joint news conference at Riyadh Air Base in Saudi Arabia
Andrew Harnik—AP U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, right, hold a joint news conference at Riyadh Air Base in Saudi Arabia, on May 7, 2015.

Kerry said the cease-fire would mean "no bombing, no shooting"

(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) — Saudi Arabia and the United States said Thursday a renewable, five-day cease-fire in Yemen’s war would start soon to facilitate aid to millions of civilians in need, if Iran-backed rebels and their allies also agree to stop fighting.

At a joint news conference, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom would halt airstrikes in Yemen because it is determined to expand relief assistance to the Yemeni people. Saudi Arabia will provide $274 million in new assistance, he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the so-called “humanitarian pause” wouldn’t start for several days, enough time for diplomatic efforts to convince the Houthi rebels and their backers to accept the terms of the deal. He said aid organizations also needed time to coordinate the best strategy for getting food, fuel and medicine into and around the country.

The announcement was made after Kerry met King Salman and other top Saudi officials in Riyadh. Kerry praised the king for seeking a peaceful resolution to Yemen’s war and for inviting “all relevant parties” to an upcoming peace conference in Saudi Arabia.

Kerry said the cease-fire would mean “no bombing, no shooting” and no repositioning of forces.

But he and al-Jubeir insisted the feasibility of the plan depended on the Houthis and the Iranians agreeing to it and not trying to exploit the lull in fighting. They said they would provide an update Friday in Paris, where they will gather with the foreign ministers of other Arab countries.

The cease-fire pledge comes as the rebels and supporters of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh consolidate their hold over parts of the southern port city of Aden. The rebels captured the area’s presidential palace, officials said Wednesday, in another sign of their resilience in the face of Saudi-led airstrikes.

Yemen had long suffered from desperate poverty, political dysfunction and al-Qaida’s most lethal branch. It became more unstable in recent months as the Houthis, who are Shiite, seized much of the country and chased Yemen’s internationally recognized president into exile. That prompted the Saudis and other Gulf Arab states to intervene. The Saudis also have been backing pro-government forces on the ground trying to fight back against the Houthis.

Kerry met earlier Thursday in the Saudi capital with Yemen’s exiled president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and his vice president and foreign minister.

“Hopefully we’ll see you in Sanaa soon,” Hadi told the top American diplomat. Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, is controlled by the Houthis.

“Ah,” Kerry replied, “there’s some work to do.”

More strikes by the Saudi-led coalition throughout the country Wednesday killed dozens of rebels, according to security officials. But the mission has shown no sign of achieving its ultimate objectives or pushing the Houthis out of population centers and restoring Hadi’s government.

The U.N. says at least 646 civilians have been killed since the start of the bombing campaign March 26. Some 300,000 have been uprooted from their homes.

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