FROM THE PAST"
The full page photo in LIFE Magazine showed a middle-aged Marine general, his shoulders slumped, face in his hands, looking as if he just wanted to die.
It was Brig. Gen. Harold C. Reisinger, USMC, court-martialed for allegedly padding his expense account by less than $100. For that, the 59-year old flag officer was being publicly humiliated and his career destroyed.
The date, January 1938. The place, a military courtroom at Quantico, Va. Reisinger, the U.S. Marine Corps paymaster, had served with honor for 38 years. At age 59, he was nearing retirement. But the general had made enemies in high places and the circus he was being put through was designed to "break" him. It did.
THE GENERAL HAS A MENTAL BREAKDOWN
According to the brief item in LIFE's January 17, 1938 issue (page 23):
An Internet search for any further news of Gen. Reisinger's fate proved fruitless. We are sure the well-oiled Marine Corps public relations machine won't be eager to help us find out more about this travesty of justice, but perhaps some old Marines out there who read MilitaryCorruption.com might have further information to share with us as to what happened to this officer who gave nearly 40 years of his life to his country.
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THE GREATEST MARINE OF THEM ALL SAID "WAR IS A RACKET"
Reisinger's brutal treatment brings to mind another wrong done to perhaps the greatest Marine of them all, the last American to be awarded the Medal of Honor two times - the late Lt. Gen. Smedly Butler.
If anyone was loved by his men, it was Butler. He was a born leader and his courage under fire was unquestioned. He proved his outspokenness when he declared - pre-Halliburton and slimy, draft-deferred Dick Cheney - "War is a racket." Not wars to defend our nation or protect our national security. He meant wars where people "on the inside" got rich while the cream of our nation's youth were sacrificed in a needless and usually losing conflict.
The feisty general hated bootlickers and sycophants. And Butler didn't hesitate to let them know it. As a result, this fearless flag officer, who most certainly should have finished his career as Commandant of the Marine Corps., was blocked from any further advancement and was forced to retire.
We should remember the lessons of what happened to Reisinger and Butler, especially in view of the fact that today, no general has to worry about being court-martialed. They can do anything they want, short of treason, and know they'll get away with, at worst, a slap-on-the-wrist and a fat pension check in the mailbox the first of every month.