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This man had the misfortune of being in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the bombs were dropped

The United States dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan in August of 1945, attacks that convinced the Japanese leadership to surrender by destroying the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killing 120,000 people, most of them civilians.


Tsutomu Yamaguchi has the dubious distinction of having been within two miles of both blasts.

Yamaguchi designed tankers for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. He was in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945  finishing up a three-month business trip to the shipyards there when he heard the low, distinctive drone of a bomber overhead.

“It was very clear, a really fine day, nothing unusual about it at all,” he said in 2005. “I was in good spirits. As I was walking along I heard the sound of a plane, just one. I looked up into the sky and saw the B-29, and it dropped two parachutes. I was looking up at them, and suddenly it was like a flash of magnesium, a great flash in the sky, and I was blown over.”

The atomic cloud over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Photo: US Air Force 509th Operations Group

The young man passed out. He woke back up in time to see a pillar of fire over the city that eventually bloomed into the darkly iconic mushroom cloud shape of a nuclear explosion. He was less than two miles from the epicenter of the explosion.

He rushed to an air raid shelter where he found two of his colleagues who were on the trip with him. They rushed to grab their belongings and flee back to their hometown of Nagasaki. As they made their way to the train platform, they saw firsthand the destruction and carnage around the city.

The aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. (Photo: US Navy Public Affairs)

“They didn’t cry,” Yamaguchi said. “I saw no tears at all. Their hair was burned, and they were completely naked. Everywhere there were burned people, some of them dead, some of them on the verge of death. None of them spoke. None of them had the strength to say a word. I didn’t hear human speech, or shouts, just the sound of the city in flames.’

He made it to the hospital in Nagasaki and was treated for the burns that covered much of his body. Despite his injuries, he reported Aug. 9 for work at Mitsubishi.

There, his boss did not believe the rumors that the devastation at Hiroshima was the result of a single bomb.

“Well, the director was angry,” Yamaguchi told the Daily Mail. He quoted his superior: “‘A single bomb can’t destroy a whole city! You’ve obviously been badly injured, and I think you’ve gone a little mad.'”

As his boss was discounting his story, the second bomb went off overhead.  “Outside the window I saw another flash,” Yamaguchi said.  “The whole office was blown over.”

The nuclear cloud spreading over Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. Photo: Hiromichi Matsuda via Public Domain

Again, Yamaguchi was less than two miles from the bomb when it detonated. The second blast blew off his bandages and severely injured the formerly skeptical director he’d been talking to.

This time, the hospital that had treated Yamaguchi was destroyed so he simply ran home. He sheltered there, dazed by a bad fever until Aug. 15 when he heard that Japan had surrendered.

Yamaguchi went on to become an advocate against nuclear proliferation. In 2010 he died of cancer.

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WWI’s deadliest sniper was from Canada

Clear eyesight, pinpoint accuracy, and having overwhelming patience are just some of the key factors of being an effective sniper in the battlefield.


Nine days after Britain declared war on Germany, Francis Pegahmagabow of the Shawanaga First Nation enlisted in the Algonquin Regiment of the Canadian Army, and shortly after left for basic training in Valcartier, Quebec.

Within just a few months, Francis and his unit were transported to the trenches of WWI and began enduring the war’s hardships, including exposure to the first of many German gas attacks.

Related: These 3 snipers had more kills than Carlos Hathcock in Vietnam

During his first few engagements, Francis began making a productive name for himself serving as an effective sniper and taking missions alone into “no man’s land,” surprising his commanders.

Climbing in rank and earning respect amongst his peers, Francis found himself in the vital role of the battalion sniper, collecting a variety of intel like enemy machine gun posts, patrol routes, and defensive position locations.

Francis would even sneak his way through enemy lines and cut souvenirs off of German uniforms while they slept, which eventually earned him a promotion to corporal. In 1916, he reverted back to the rank of private at his own petition.

Also read: The 6 best Hollywood sniper shots ever

He was wounded in the leg and later caught a case of pneumonia, but hit the ground running upon his return to the front lines, racking up medals for bravery by improving his kill count numbers and running messages back and forth to Allied troop units.

Francis Pegahmagabow in June 1945, (Canadian Museum of History/CBC/Screenshot)

Francis Pegahmagabow passed away on Aug. 5, 1952, but was credited with 378 kills and aiding in the capture of approximately 300 enemy combatants — making him the deadliest sniper of the Great War.

Check out The Great War‘s channel for a more in-depth look at Canada’s most prized sniper of WWI.

(The Great War, YouTube)
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Here’s what happens when the Air Force’s computer nerds hang out with pararescuemen

Could you keep up with an Air Force pararescueman? Some researchers with the Air Force did just that, joining the famed PJs on a deployment.


The result was an app that turned a smart phone into something a lot like a tricorder from Star Trek.

The Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit is a smartphone app that when combined with commercial, off-the-shelf sensors, enables a PJ to monitor the health and vital signs of multiple patients, even when deployed and facing hostile forces.

A pararescueman from the 38th Rescue Squadron simulates giving Staff Sgt. Nicholas Mahan, 337th Air Control Squadron weapons technician, an IV during a rapid-rescue exercise, Nov. 2, 2016, in Marianna, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

“We physically left the lab, got into the field with the operators, and observed firsthand the challenges and deficiencies they face,” said Dr. Gregory Burnett, who managed the BATDOK program. “And when I say into the field, I mean we literally rode in the helicopters into hot landing zones, and observed medical Airmen stabilize and package up patients for transport and load them back on the helicopter.”

The result? By observing with the operators, and working with them – no feature was added to BATDOK without a request from the operators – the team was able to avoid what the release called “unforeseen downsides to new technology.” Instead, the researchers and the operators were able to integrate BATDOK into the suite of tactical gear.

The BATDOK app can deliver real-time health status for multiple patients, can keep medical records at a PJ’s fingertips and can house first-aid information and location data all in one place, engineers say.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos

“BATDOK was designed to not add any additional burden to battlefield Airmen’s tactical ensemble,” Burnett added. “From the beginning, we are designing to enhance capabilities, while aiding their survivability and lethality.”

While PJs and many combat troops deploy with heavy loads, it looks like many won’t mind having this new piece of gear along for the ride.

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9 foreign films that capture what happens when armies fight terrorists

Waging a war against insurgents and terrorists is hard. While America has tried to capture its struggles in movies like “Zero Dark Thirty” and “American Sniper,” filmmakers from other countries have made their own great films about fighting insurgencies.


Here are 9 of the best:

1. The Battle of Algiers

“The Battle of Algiers” was screened at the Pentagon during lessons on counter-insurgency warfare. The film was originally released in 1966 but was banned for five years in France. It depicts the atrocities on each side of the actual Battle of the Algiers in the 1950s where French paratroopers eventually put down an Algerian nationalistic uprising.

2. Waltz with Bashir

This animated movie follows an Israeli veteran of the 1982 Lebanon War when Israel invaded. The vet can’t remember anything from the war, and so begins interviewing his former comrades and others who took part in the conflict.

3. A War

“A War” is a new film from Danish filmmakers. An infantry commander is put on trial after a questionable airstrike kills women and children. Back home in Denmark, he must explain to his family why he ordered the strikes while defending himself from prosecution. This is a instant classic about fighting with rules of engagement designed to win hearts and mind more than battles.

4. Timbuktu

“Timbuktu” is a city in Mali which was overtaken by by Islamic militants in 2012. The movie focuses on a community that lives in terror of the radical occupiers. Much like ISIS, the terrorists controlling the city use a perverted version of Sharia law and order executions for even minor offenses.

5. Kandahar

“Kandahar” was filmed and released before the Sept. 11 attacks and shows the horrible state that the Afghan people lived in beneath the Taliban. A Canadian-Afghan woman who escaped the country as a child has to return to try and prevent the suicide of her sister who is being crushed beneath the Taliban regime.

6. The Wind That Shakes the Barley

The Irish Republican Army’s struggle for independence from Britain turned into a civil war in 1921 when half of the resistance accepted a treaty with the United Kingdom that granted dominion but not full independence. “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” follows two brothers in the IRA from their years fighting together against Britain to the Irish Civil War where they wind up on opposite sides.

(“Michael Collins” is another good movie from this conflict.)

7. The Baader-Meinhof Complex

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9cNxhDrRSo

In post-war West Germany a group of students started the Red Army Faction, a terror group that sought to resist a government that they saw as falling back into the mold of Nazi Germany. “The Baader-Meinhof Complex” follows the rise and fall of these students in a thrilling, blood-soaked narrative.

8. Kilo Two Bravo

A group of British paratroopers in Afghanistan spend their days controlling a hilltop and conducting patrols until a fire team moving down the hill gets caught in the middle of a old Soviet minefield. “Kilo Two Bravo” does a great job of showing the dangers and complexities of operating in a land filled with mines and IEDs.

9. Waar

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T6pQ6op0bc

“Waar” is one of Pakistan’s top grossing films ever. It follows a former Pakistani Army officer who is roped back in for a counter-terrorism operation. It’s an interesting look at terrorism through the eyes of a country that lives with it in their backyard. (Heads up: some of the story and acting is over the top. Imagine a terror film set in Pakistan and directed by John Woo.)

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Here is some of the best Navy jet footage from 2015

Last year Wing Nut Wick published a compilation of the best Naval aviation footage captured from the cockpits of Navy jets called Hornet Ball 2014. This year a similar video compilation surfaced from Navy West Coast squadrons published by Joe Stephens.


Related:  The best Navy jet footage from 2013

In similar fashion, some of the most incredible Hornet footage was captured in HD and paired with some of the sickest EDM beats (Electronic Dance Music). The latest version features precision video editing and could stand on its own as a music video. Too bad MTV no longer plays that sort of stuff; it would surely give any artist in the top 20 list a run for their money.

It opens with a breathtaking flyover of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) that perfectly displays the might of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. There’s nothing like a floating fortress of freedom that projects power over any horizon.

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). Joe Stephens/YouTube

It follows the Aviation Ordnancemen (AOs) — the sailors in red jerseys — loading the Hornets with bombs.

Aviation Ordnancemen take bombs to the F/A-18 Hornets. Joe Stephens/YouTube

The plane captain — sailors in brown jerseys — gives the pilot a greeting salute before the officer proceeds to his final plane check before climbing into the cockpit. It is the plane captain’s responsibility to have the jet ready to fly. These men and women are usually some of the youngest in a squadron.

A plane captain gives a greeting salute to the pilot. Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube screengrab

After all of the preflight inspections, the Hornet is handed off to the ship’s aircraft handlers in yellow jerseys for launch positioning.

F/A-18 Hornet getting into launch position. Joe Stephens/YouTube

Final flight systems check.

Joe Stephens/YouTube

Full afterburners and FIRE!

F/A-18 Hornet launch. Joe Stephens/YouTube

The footage is awesome! Here’s a screen grab from the cockpit.

Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube screengrab

Refueling in mid air.

Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

Refueling up close.

Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

Rocket launch.

Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

Super slo-mo firing.

Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

You’ll never see a sunset quite like this.

Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube Screengrab

Tailhook down.

Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

Approaching the flight deck.

Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

A breakaway into the sunset.

Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

A missile launch from a destroyer.

Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

Hornet swarm.

Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube Screengrab

Flight formation.

Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube Screengrab

A daring landing in thick fog.

Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube Screengrab

An incredible flyby viewed from the air.

Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube Screengrab

A view of Mount Fuji.

Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube Screengrab

From the flight deck to the insane aerial acrobatics from our finest men and women, this video truly captures the Navy fighter experience. The video is 13 minutes long but it’s worth watching.

Watch:

Articles

These photos show the amazing views of Air Force cockpits

Few people get to experience the amazing rush, and have the incredible view, that pilots with the US Air Force are able to experience.


The following pictures take us inside the cockpits of the US Air Force.

US Air Force Maj. James Silva, left, and Lt. Col. Steven Myers, both B-1B Lancer pilots, complete a flight in the first newly upgraded operational B1-B Lancer, January 21, 2014, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Ebensberger

First Lt. Greg Johnston and Capt. RJ Bergman fly their UH-1N Iroquois over a mountain range, January 27, 2015, near Malmstrom Air Force Base.

US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dillon Johnston

Capt. Jonathan Bonilla and 1st Lt. Vicente Vasquez, 459th Airlift Squadron UH-1N Huey pilots, fly over Tokyo after completing night training, April 25, 2016.

US Air Force by Yasuo Osakabe

A US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot with the 77th Fighter Squadron (FS) settles into his cockpit before takeoff, October 5, 2011, from Shaw Air Force Base.

US Air Force by Senior Airman Kenny Holston

A US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aerial-refueling aircraft connects with a Belgian F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, August 18, 2011, during aerial refueling over Afghanistan.

US Air Force by Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen

Staff Sgt. Michael Keller takes a self-portrait in an F-15E Strike Eagle during a local training mission over North Carolina, December 17, 2010.

US Air Force by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller

Vlado Lenoch, a pilot with Air Combat Command’s Heritage Flight program, taxis the runway at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on March 5, 2016. Lenoch and his P-51 Mustang participated in Air Combat Command’s Heritage Flight Training Course, a program that features modern fighter/attack aircraft flying alongside Word War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War-ear aircraft.

US Air Force by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro

F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing fly an air-to-air training mission against student pilots, April 8, 2015.

US Air Force by Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen

A US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft from the 335th Fighter Squadron approaches a 911th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker over North Carolina during a local training mission, December 17, 2010.

US Air Force by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller

US Air Force Technical Sgt. James L. Harper Jr., aerial-combat photographer, 1st Combat Camera Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, takes a self-portrait during a training mission with the 119th Fighter Squadron, New Jersey Air National Guard on August 19, 2009, over the Atlantic Ocean.

US Air Force by Technical Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.

A US Air Force F-16 aerially refuels from a KC-135 Stratotanker.

US Air Force

Not a bad office view.

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WATM is looking for veterans who’ve made their homes epic

We Are The Mighty is looking for veterans from across the country who have gone above and beyond to make their homes epic and unique places to share with their family and community. These can be home additions, renovations, new constructions, or anything else as long as they are home areas designed to bring people together.


Tree houses, bunkers, outdoor areas, and other spaces are also great.

We’d love to hear your stories about construction, community, and the military experience.

If you or someone you know has a home they’d like to highlight, please collect the following and email it to nicholas.gibeault@wearethemighty.com.

  • Name
  • Age
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Photo of the house or area

Selected homes will be featured in a WATM series that will feature homes and communities that meet at them.

Photo courtesy Hector Salas

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Iran’s military mastermind just gave the US the bird


Iran’s military mastermind is getting defiant.

Gen. Qassem Soleimani ignored a travel ban and sanctions and flew to Russia to meet with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin, two unnamed Western intelligence sources told Fox News.

It’s not clear what the leaders discussed at the July 24 meeting.

Soleimani is a US-designated terrorist. US Secretary of State John Kerry, as he rallies Washington support for the Iran nuclear deal, has assured American officials that Soleimani and his Quds Force would continue to face sanctions from the US Treasury even after UN sanctions are lifted under the deal, Fox reports.

Kerry told Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) on July 29 that US sanctions against Soleimani would never be lifted, according to Fox.

Soleimani reportedly traveled to Russia on a commercial Air Iran flight. He arrived on July 24, a Friday, and left on Sunday.

Fox notes the significance of his visit: “UN sanctions have not yet been lifted against Iran, and Soleimani, as head of the Iranian Quds Force is sanctioned as part of Security Council Resolution 1747. He is prohibited to travel, and any country that lets him transit or travel is defying the sanctions. (Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council and would have been aware of this restriction when meeting with him.)”

As US officials have assured Americans that money from Iran sanctions relief wouldn’t significantly affect the country’s regional activities, critics have pointed to Soleimani’s ambitions and reluctance to bow to the nuclear deal.

The Quds Force, the special forces wing of the Iran Revolutionary Guard, has been expanding its influence across the Middle East and getting involved in regional conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

Soleimani has also been spotted on the front lines in Iraq, where he has been playing a major role in commanding Shia militias that have been fighting alongside Iraqi security forces to drive the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh) out of the country.

The Shia militias have emerged as the most effective fighting force against ISIS in Iraq, but some say the Shia fighters aren’t much better than the ISIS terrorists they’re trying to expunge. (Others, however, have welcomed the Shia militias as the best option for helping Sunni tribal fighters drive ISIS out of Iraq.)

The militias have been accused of torching Sunni villages and barring civilians from returning to cities that have been liberated from ISIS, a Sunni terror group.

And this isn’t the first time Iranian proxies have gotten involved in Iraq — Shia militias commanded by Soleimani killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq during the US invasion.

Russia has also been involved in conflicts in the Middle East by supporting Iran and Syria, which are allies with each other and with Russia.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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Army veteran and comic favorite of Mercury astronauts Bill Dana dies at 92

Comedy writer and performer Bill Dana, who won stardom in the 1950s and ’60s with his character Jose Jimenez, has died.


Dana died June 15th at his home in Nashville, Tennessee, according to Emerson College, his alma mater. He was 92.

Dana served as an Army infantryman during World War II and earned the Bronze Star.

Early in his career, Dana wrote jokes for Don Adams and Steve Allen, on whose show he served as head writer. It was for a sketch on “The Steve Allen Show” that Dana created Jose Jimenez, which eventually led to his own NBC sitcom, “The Bill Dana Show,” which aired from 1963-1965.

Bill Dana as his famous character, Jose Jimenez (left). Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The character’s shy, Spanish-accented introduction, “My name … Jose … Jimenez,” became a national catchphrase.

Dana became a favorite of NASA’s Mercury astronauts, eventually being named as the honorary 8th member of the first team of Americans in space.

Dana recorded eight best-selling comedy albums, and made many TV appearances while continuing behind the scenes as a comedy writer.

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How the SAS has deployed to London’s streets to stop another terrorist attack

In the wake of a recent spate of terrorist attacks in London, the government of Prime Minister Theresa May has turned to the country’s elite Special Air Service counter-terrorist forces to blend into the city’s landscape in hopes of stopping another attack before it starts.


While they’re reportedly deploying alongside police units wearing special uniforms and carrying the latest commando gear, the SAS troopers are also said to be disguising themselves as homeless people and sleeping on city streets.

“The threat level is still assessed by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre as severe and that means an attack is highly likely so we must be ready,” a military source told the Daily Mail. “These soldiers provide a very good layer of immediate response at least to ­minimize casualties or stop injuries or deaths if they react quickly.”

Other SAS operators posing as civilians are offering handouts to the “homeless” commandos to keep them fed and supplied, the paper said.

Unlike the United States, the United Kingdom doesn’t have a Posse Comitatus Act that prohibits the deployment of military forces within the country at the direction of the government. While this might have some scratching their heads, it has many feeling much safer in the wake of recent terrorist attacks which have left scores wounded and killed.

In order to diminish the threat to UK residents and citizens, May has not-so-subtly authorized the British military to turn the SAS loose throughout the country in an effort to prevent further attacks and to hunt down would-be terrorists before they can carry out their dastardly plans.

Soon after initial reports on the May 22 bombing in the lobby of the Manchester Arena surfaced, Blue Eurocopter Dauphins belonging to the British Army Air Corps’ 658 Squadron appeared on rooftops of the city, offloading kitted-out SAS troops, armed to the teeth with assault rifles and sub-machine guns.

In the days since, news media across the UK have noted that these SAS warfighters have been assisting British police teams in assaulting the hideouts of terrorists around the country, sweeping for accomplices who may have been involved in the planning and execution of various terror attacks this year.

According to The Mirror, troops from the SAS’s G-Squadron and Counter Revolutionary Warfare Wing have also been posted in the UK’s largest cities, walking among the general public without anybody the wiser in the hopes of catching terrorists unawares while they attempt to attack unassuming civilians going about their daily lives. These fully operational troops have been trained to blend in, only stepping out with their weapons drawn if the need arises.

The Special Air Service was formed during the Second World War in Africa, an asymmetric warfare detachment of the British Army equipped with jeeps and machine guns to harass German military units when they least expected it. First led by eccentric officer and adventurer, Sir David Stirling, the SAS proved its worth and began operating in the European theater during the war.

In the Cold War, its mission evolved along with the threats the rest of the world faced, and counter-terrorism became a priority, remaining its top directive to this very day.

Recruits vying for a shot at joining the SAS and earning its coveted beige beret face an arduous journey ahead, involving grueling physical tests, sleep and meal deprivation, and a long-distance forced march across a mountain in Wales which has to be accomplished within a time limit. The attrition rates have consistently been incredibly high throughout the selection course’s history and, controversially, the course has even claimed the lives of a few of its attendees.

Upon being selected to the SAS, candidates are trained to be master marksmen, expert drivers, free-fall skydivers and more in a diverse array of climates and environments.

By the end of their training, these soldiers stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of the very best special operations forces in the world.

This is not the first time the SAS has seen action inside British borders. In early 1980, the unit was deployed to London to take down the Iranian embassy after terrorists seized control of the diplomatic house, taking a number of civilians hostage. After negotiations failed, SAS teams assaulted the embassy, killing all but one of the perpetrators while arresting the sole survivor. This event is recounted in vivid detail in the upcoming movie “6 Days.”

In the years since the Iranian embassy siege, the SAS has been sent to a number of combat zones throughout the world, operating from the Falklands in the early 1980s to the Middle East in the present day. In Iraq, members of the SAS served as part of a joint multinational hunter-killer unit known as Task Force Black/Knight, systematically rooting out and eliminating terrorists in-country. More recently, it has been rumored that the SAS is once again active in the Middle East, functioning alongside allied partners with the goal of destroying ISIS through both pinpoint attacks and brute force.

While British citizens can sleep well at night, now knowing that their nations’ finest walk incognito in their midst, potential terrorists will likely quiver with the knowledge that these elite operators stand ready in the shadows to visit violence upon those who would do their countrymen harm.

 

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This Marine wants to know what songs you’d put on your ultimate battle playlist

Look. Music is awesome. It can be motivating as hell, it can take you back to an important time in your life, or it can be comforting in dark times.


We made a series of playlists to keep you company during life’s moments and we call them Battle Mixes. In this video, U.S. Marine Weston Scott talks about a few of his favorites.

We love the part when he busts up talking about Chris Stapleton.

Check out the video, and let us know which songs you think we should put on our Ultimate Battle Mix:

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Here are 5 things the ‘Harlem Hellfighters’ did that cemented their place in history

Wikimedia commons


The 369th Infantry Regiment isn’t a fixture in history textbooks. It should be. Nicknamed the “Harlem Hellfighters” by the Germans, they were the first African-American infantry unit to fight in World War I. They were also one of the most decorated. Here are 5 reasons why the “Harlem Hellfighters” are the ultimate American heroes:

1. They were the first African-American infantry unit to fight in World War I

Approximately 380,000 African-Americans served in the U.S. Army during the Great War. Although there was no specific segregation policy outlined in the draft legislation, African-American volunteers were told to “tear off one corner of their registration cards so they could easily be identified and inducted separate.” Translation: The military was willing to accept black troops as long as they didn’t mix with the white population. Most of the African-American soldiers who volunteered were confined to labor battalions. Shipped to France in December 1917, the 369th Infantry Regiment was initially going to be kept on the sidelines. Their fortunes changed when Gen. John Pershing assigned them to the16th Division of the French Army. Unlike their American allies, the French were happy to accept any soldier willing to fight on the front lines, regardless of race.

2. The got their nickname from the Germans

The 369th soon became one of the most feared units in the Allied forces. Famous for never ceding an inch of ground, they were nicknamed the “Harlem Hellfighters” by the Germans. Since over 70 percent of the unit hailed from Harlem, the name stuck. That wasn’t the only nickname they earned during the war: The French were so impressed by their general badassery that they dubbed them the “Men of Bronze.”

3. They introduced the French to American Jazz

Bet you didn’t see this one coming. When they weren’t scaring the bejesus out of the Germans, the369th made some pretty boss music. Led by James Reese Europe, the 369th Infantry Jazz Band, also known as the “Hellfighters,” introduced the French to the sweet stylings of American ragtime. Largely forgotten now, Europe became an international sensation. After the war, the Hellfighters performed for more then a million people when they marched up Fifth Avenue during the World War I victory parade.

4. They saw more combat than any other American unit

The 369th spent 191 consecutive days on the front lines. Which means they saw more action than any other American regiment. They were also the first Allied unit to reach the Rhine.

YouTube

5. They broke down racial barriers

The “Harlem Hellfighters” helped combat racial stereotypes at home and abroad. When they returned home, the soldiers were welcomed as heroes. Unfortunately for America, this new period of racial tolerance didn’t last. During the “Red Summer” of 1919, anti-black race riots erupted in twenty-six cities across America. Tragically, lynching increased from fifty-eight in 1918 to seventy-seven in 1919. At least ten of the victims were war veterans, and some were lynched while in uniform. The U.S. military remained segregated until 1948.

Interested in learning more about the “Harlem Hellfighters”? Make sure to watch William Miles’s Men of Bronze. Filmed in 1977, the eye-opening documentary features interviews with four veterans of the 369th.

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Syria puts jets under Russian protection, raising risk of war

After having as many as 24 of its planes destroyed in a salvo of 59 cruise missiles from US Navy ships in the Mediterranean Sea on April 7, Syria has repositioned its jets to bases protected by Russian missile defenses, according to CNN.


“The Syrian air force is not in good shape,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon, according to CNN. “It’s been worn down by years of combat plus some … significant maintenance problems.”

Still, combined with the dozens of planes from his Russian backers, Syrian President Bashar Assad has an asymmetrical air advantage over his adversaries — rebel groups that have little more than a few anti-aircraft missile launchers.

The move to bases near Russian missile defenses provides Syria with a clear deterrent against further US strikes. Experts say Russia’s S-300 and S-400 anti-air defenses can knock down Tomahawk cruise missiles, which were used in the April 7 strike.

Russian S-400 Triumph medium-range and long-range surface-to-air missile systems at the Victory Day parade in Moscow. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Aleksey Toritsyn

Additionally, Russia has moved three warships to Syria’s coast, further complicating the US’s options should it launch another strike.

US officials have repeatedly stressed that they are “prepared to do more” against Assad’s regime should more evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria appear, but the recent developments on the battlefield mean an engagement would be much more dangerous.

Related: Islamic State terrorists launched a chemical attack in Mosul

Igor Sutyagin of the Royal United Services Institute an expert on Russian missile defense systems and strategic armaments, told Business Insider that the presence of Russian defenses didn’t guarantee the safety of Syria’s planes.

“One air defense battalion with an S-300 has 32 missiles,” Sutyagin said. “They will fire these against 16 targets — maybe against cruise missiles they would fire a one-to-one ratio — but to prevent the target from evading, you always launch two … but what if there are 50 targets?”

To further avoid detection, the US could use stealth aircraft like F-22s currently stationed in the theater.

A US Air Force F-22 Raptor flies over the Arabian Sea in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in January 2016. | US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook

Although the US could still carry out an attack against Syrian and Russian military targets, it would run a huge risk of killing Russian service members. The US warned Moscow ahead of the April 7 strike on Shayrat air base.

In this situation, where the target is Russian air defenses or planes on Russian bases, it’s unclear if the Russians would back away from their hardware, and killing Russian service members would risk massive escalation.