Thursday, July 14, 2016

Gresham - In Memory of an Intellectual Giant [8 August 1957 - 2 July 2016]

John D Gresham Expert on Spec Ops and Intel Ops

This is another of our Guest Posts, 
reprints of articles which are important enough to 
rebroadcast to our unique audience in six continents.  

This obituary is particularly significant since John Gresham authored a series of books which were exceptionally accurate, and in some cases, included material from Top Secret/Codeword reports which we assume had been released/declassified for his use by key Pentagon/Intelligence/White House officials.  

Since we spent a bit of time with John Gresham in his final years, during which a "mysterious illness" systematically destroyed his health, and finally, his ability to resist infection and his pulmonary functions -- a condition which destroyed his research and writing ability, we wanted to include some ancillary information in this tribute by Chuck Oldham to him.

Tom Clancy
His association and research support for the Maryland insurance salesman - Tom Clancy - comes to mind as we recall Tom Clancy's first and most famous novel The Hunt For Red October [1984], which recounted in exceptional detail the defection of a Soviet Navy captain commanding a submarine with the most advanced propulsion system of any Navy.  

We found this detail entrancing since we had been on the Pentagon's Current Intelligence [Soviet] Desk as this true story unfolded only a few years earlier, and we briefed a very small, select group of flag rank officers and Pentagon executives each day of the event.  The total number of personnel cleared for those briefs was perhaps 40, and neither Clancy nor Gresham were among them.  

But, as we had first hand experience, both analytical and operational in other noteworthy intelligence operations, we were once again surprised to see them recounted, in some noteworthy detail, by Clancy via Gresham's "research"; among those "novels" were Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, which were completely accurate with the exception of the juxtaposition of key characters.

Heart Stoppage Victim
Notably, both John Gresham and Tom Clancy died of "undisclosed illnesses", common among highly visible authors who have discovered, or have been made privy to most sensitive secrets.  

Clancy died of the Breitbart syndrome known as "heart stoppage", which also took the life of William Colby, former Director of Central Intelligence - who, coincidentally, lived not far from Tom Clancy on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Reagan & Walters - Strategists
President Reagan was perhaps Clancy's most visible and enthusiastic fan, and we suspect coordinated with former DCI Vernon Walters [for whom we worked [1981-83] to ensure Clancy and Gresham were provided all the sensitive information necessary for full disclosure of these scenarios.  

Walters and Reagan were masters at the use of such information to expand the focus of intelligent observers and actionable people on actual events which posed a threat to national security.  [Walters, by the way, was the real Deep Throat in Watergate]

In reality, both John Gresham and Tom Clancy fall into the national hero category, so, this blog post today pays tribute to two fallen warriors, whose 
"pen was mightier than the sword." 

Click here for original story [Chuck Oldham (Editor, DefenseMediaNetwork)

Our friend and colleague John D. Gresham died July 2, 2016, after fighting serious health issues for the past several years.

An author, researcher, game designer, commentator and historian, John was well known for his interviews, commentary, research, screenwriting, and production assistance for various documentary series produced for TLC and the History, Military, New York Times, Discovery, and National Geographic channels.

He was the primary researcher and partner to Tom Clancy on his best-selling series of non-fiction “guided tour” books about military units.

These included Submarine (1993), Armored Cav (1994), Fighter Wing (1995), Marine (1996),Airborne (1997), Carrier (1999), and Special Forces (2001), all published by Berkley Books.

He also was the award-winning co-designer of Supermarina I and Supermarina II (Clash of Arms Games, 1996 and 1997), naval wargames based upon Larry Bond’s award-winning Command at Sea game system.

His book DEFCON-2 (with Norman Polmar) was a single-volume history of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Beyond Hell and Back (2007, with Dwight Jon Zimmerman), describes seven key U.S. special operations missions.

His last book was Uncommon Valor, covering six Medal of Honor recipients and their deeds in Iraq and Afghanistan, also co-authored with Zimmerman.

He was the consulting editor of The Year in Special Operations for more than a decade, and was an integral part of its growth and success over the years.

John had big ambitions for the publication from the beginning and achieved most of them. He also wrote many stories for other Faircount publications, and was a regular contributor to the Defense Media Network website.

John was a proud and passionate man, and wore his heart on his sleeve with respect to his avocations, his politics, his heroes, and his country. He was an expert on most things military or security-related, but read widely and well, and could discuss a wide range of subjects with authority. He felt privileged to be able to work with and write about the military, and held strong opinions about what shape it should take, as well as about various weapons, strategies, communities, programs, and people.

Chuck, About That Deadline
Most of his friends have a “John story” that demonstrates his personality or character. As one of his editors, over the years I collected a lot of John stories of a different sort, since I cannot recall him having ever made a deadline.

 While this often caused enormous stress, I can look back on it now with a smile, because John’s excuses became increasingly creative as the years went by. Equipment failures became old hat, although the old “Didn’t you get my email? I sent that to you” remained a favorite.

Hard drives died, laptops expired, email was hacked. My personal favorites were the acts of God and Mother Nature.

At deadline time, John’s home became the focus of strange and inexplicable phenomena, an uncanny vortex attracting the extremes of weather and chance, where pop-up tornadoes, mini-blizzards, neighborhood flash floods, sudden, violent downpours, and localized windstorms showering tree limbs from the skies could knock out power and communications for days at a time. I won’t miss tearing my hair out over missing stories when the next deadline comes, but I’ll miss our long conversations about military history, technology, and publishing, our debates over strategy and tactics, and our arguments over politics. John was an outsized personality – fiercely proud, brimming with enthusiasm, a big kid at heart – the world will be a little less colorful without him.