Semper Bellum Episode 01 Immersion Guide: Introduction to Semper Bellum

Welcome to the Episode 01 immersion guide for the Semper Bellum podcast. Consider this a resource for you to enjoy while you listen. Our intent is to provide links to our sources so that you don’t just have to take our word for the claims made in each episode.

However, we also wanted to provide something more engaging than a bibliography. After all, we’re asking a lot of you by hoping you’ll give us 15 or 20 minutes of your precious attention every week —seriously, as parents who work full time, we understand that’s a big ask.

Hopefully, we can make these immersion guides fun and… well… immersive. Our hope is that you’ll peruse this guide as you listen to the podcast, sort of like a director’s commentary and a bibliography all mixed into one. However, it should also be useful on its own, especially after you’ve finished the episode.

To that end, you can expect links to more than just the texts we used to confirm our facts. We’re also going to provide you with lists featuring related websites, books, films, and even video game reviews (I personally cannot wait until I get to talk about Hearts of Iron IV and Total War: The Three Kingdoms in a future guide). You’ll also find links to videos and other podcasts and, basically, anything else we think helps to illuminate the topics we’re discussing.

So, without, further ado, what follows is our first official Semper Bellum immersion guide:

Episode 01

0:00 – 1:05 — Introduction and content warning

Veterans Crisis Line (copied directly from

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans and Service members in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.

Dial 988 and Press 1, 24/7.

Chat online.

Text to 838255.

War Vet Call Center

Call 1-877-927-8387, 24/7 to reach the Vet Center Call Center and talk about your military experience or other concerns during your transition from military to civilian life. The team is comprised of Veterans from several eras as well as family members of Veterans.

Women Veterans Call Center

The Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) provides VA services and resources to women Veterans, their families, and caregivers. You can also chat online anonymously with a WVCC representative.

Call 1-855-VA-Women (1-855-829-6636) 8 a.m.–10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday;8 a.m.–6:30 p.m. ET, Saturday.

Chat 8 a.m.–10 p.m. ET Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–6:30 p.m. ET, Saturday.

1:05 – 3:05 — WESTPAC 2003, USS Nimitz

(WESTPAC 2003 is the name and year of the deployment, and “USS Nimitz” is the name of the first ship I served on, designation “CVN 68,” which means it’s a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier)

semper bellum

My first deployment and they got my name wrong in the official cruise book (my middle initial doesn’t start with the letter “S”).

A typical squadron “ready room,” per Wikipedia Commons, you can see the tactical monitor above the commander’s head:

This YouTube video shows flight ops (and explosions over Baghdad) from the USS Nimitz during WESTPAC 2003 and the “Shock and Awe” campaign. It’s a bit tough for me to watch, especially because of the amped up rock music that accompanies it, but it does capture the conflict in a way many civilians have never seen:

Even tougher to watch is this video from CNN where you can see the city of Baghdad getting smashed during the Coalition’s “Shock and Awe” campaign. 7,000+ civilians died during those bombing runs:

Per the Action on Armed Violence report“The bombing of 19 and 20 March 2003 were a pre-cursor to the main bombing campaign, which began on 21 March. This phase of the bombing was known as the ‘shock and awe’ phase. Over 1700 air sorties were flown during this phase.”

OIF by the numbers” states that: “Significant civilian casualties occurred in the air war in Iraq despite the use of a high percentage of precision weapons. Of the 29,199 bombs dropped during the war by the United States and United Kingdom, nearly two-thirds (19,040) were precision-guided munitions.”

President Bush’s speech announcing the start of the Iraq War, via CSPAN on YouTube:

The War in Iraq and the War on Isis (Iraq 2) combined would be the second longest US war, with only the War in Afghanistan lasting longer (screenshot of Wikipedia entry):


CORRECTION: The 1,700 sorties number for Shock and Awe mentioned during the episode is correct to the best of my knowledge, but it turns out the “more than 80,00 tons of ordnance” number I quote in the podcast is actually incorrect. That number (which is actually 88,500) comes from the Gulf War in Iraq of 1991.

We’re terribly sorry for the mistake. As it turns out, I’m unable to find any numbers on the tonnage of ordnance dropped during OIF but, as mentioned above, experts put the (unclassified) number of missiles/bombs fired and dropped at close to 30,000. If you can link us to a decent estimate as to how much actual boom that equals in raw tonnage, we’d very much appreciate it.

Screenshot from the Air Force Magazine archives:

3:05 – 3:56 — War never ends

I knew dozens of people who died in the war, many were my friends. They’re the reason I’m doing this.

A farewell page dedicated to my shipmate and friend, Petty Officer David Mudge, who served with honor and distinction from the moment of his enlistment at age 19 until he died in the Persian Gulf aboard the USS Rentz at only 22 years old.

3:56 – 9:25 — The incredible tales of Shoichi Yokoi, Hiroo Onoda, and Teruo Nakamura

Read: “28 Years in the Guam Jungle: Sergeant Yokoi Home from World War II” by Asahi Shimbun, paperback, on Amazon

Read: “No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War” by Hiroo Onoda, paperback, on Amazon

Read: “Teruo Nakamura: The Unbeaten Soldier of World War II” by Robert P. Gardnett, Kindle Edition, on Amazon

Watch: Onoda: “10,000 Nights in the Jungle”


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