This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam's diamonds - We Are The Mighty
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This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

When Germany began its assault on Holland on May 10, 1940, the international community was not just worried about the lives of the Dutch people but also about the massive stocks of industrial diamonds in Amsterdam.


This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
The German invasion of Holland featured the use of paratroopers in costumes and Dutch uniforms. Photo: Dutch National Archives via Wikipedia

Industrial diamonds were used for many manufacturing purposes and the country that controlled the diamonds could create more weapons, vehicles, and sophisticated technology like radar.

That’s why two diamond traders in England, Jan Smit and Walter Keyser, offered their services to the British government. Jan’s father ran a large trading interest in Amsterdam and was friends with many more traders. Smit was certain that if he were allowed passage into and out of Amsterdam, he could get many diamonds out before the Nazis could seize them.

Approval for the mission went all the way to the new prime minister Winston Churchill himself. Churchill ordered a military officer to escort the two men and granted them the use of an old World War I destroyer, the HMS Walpole, to get them into the city. The Walpole had to thread a mile gap between German and British minefields at night under blackout conditions to get across the English Channel.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
The HMS Walpole Photo: Royal Navy

During the transit, the Walpole almost struck another British ship sneaking through the darkness. Those on the Walpole would learn years later that the other ship was evacuating members of the Dutch Royal family.

Keyser and Smit arrived in the harbor just before daybreak and spent the day working with Smit’s father to convince traders to release the diamonds to the Keyser and Smit. From their landing at the docks to their trips around the city, the men were driven by a Jewish woman, Anna, who protected them from possible German spies.

Throughout the men’s day in Amsterdam, Dutch police and soldiers were attempting to root out pockets of German paratroopers wreaking havoc in the city. Across the country, German forces were quickly taking over and quashing resistance. Gunfire interrupted a few of their meetings.

The Germans made quick progress and occupied the entire country within five days. Photo: German Army Archives via Wikipedia The Germans made quick progress and occupied the entire country within five days. Photo: German Army Archives via Wikipedia

Many of the diamond traders were Jewish and could have bribed their way out of the country with their stocks and possibly escaped the Holocaust. Instead, they took the chance to get them away from German hands. Most of the traders even refused receipts out of fear that the Germans would learn how many diamonds they had prevented the Third Reich from getting their hands on.

While the men gave many of their diamonds to the English agents, the attack had come during a bank weekend and many were in safes that couldn’t be opened for another day or more.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Industrial diamonds are used in tools and manufacturing equipment because of their how hard they are. Photo: R. Tanaka CC BY 3.0 via Wikipedia

Luckily another British agent, Lt. Col. Montagu R. Chidson, made his way to the massive vault at the Amsterdam Mart and spent hours breaking into it, even as German paratroopers forced their way into the building. He escaped with the diamonds as the soldiers forced their way down the stairs.

At the end of the day, Chidson escaped on his own while Anna rushed Smit, Keyser, and their military escort back to the docks just in time to rendezvous with the HMS Walpole. Smit carried a thick canvas bag filled with the diamonds and forced a tug driver at gunpoint to take them to the British destroyer.

Chidson’s diamonds made their way to Queen Wilhelmina while the diamonds recovered by Smit and Keyser were held in London for the duration of the war.

(h/t David E. Walker for his 1955 book, “Adventure In Diamonds” where he recounts much of the first-hand testimony of the men who took part in the operations to recover diamonds ahead of the Nazi advance).

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Behold, the largest plane in the US Air Force

At 222 feet across, almost 300 feet long, and 65 feet tall at its tail, Lockheed Martin’s C-5 Galaxy is the largest transport aircraft in the US Air Force. With a cargo hull 121 feet long and 19 feet across, the C-5 is a flying warehouse that can carry a combat-ready military unit or deliver necessary supplies anywhere in the world.


The C-5 has a cargo capacity of 142 tons, the equivalent of carrying two M1A1 Abrams tanks, six greyhound buses, or 25,844,746 ping-pong balls. Below, see just how awesome the C-5’s carrying capacity is.

The C-5 Galaxy absolutely dwarfs humans.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
People in line to enter the 445th Airlift Wing’s first C-5A Galaxy in 2005. | US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Charlie Miller

The engine alone is more than 7 feet across.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Staff Sgt. Randall Ard, 730th Air Mobility Squadron crew chief, clears the runway for a C-5 Galaxy at Yokota Air Base, Japan, August 31, 2015. | US Air Force photo

Even large helicopters are tiny compared to the C-5.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
US Marine Corps Bell AH-1 Sea Cobra helicopters and a Bell UH-1N Twin Huey helicopter are parked on the flight line as a US Air Force C-5A Galaxy aircraft stands by after unloading supplies during Operation Desert Shield on January 23, 1991. | US Army

To ease loading and unloading, the C-5 opens from the nose and the tail end.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
ILA-boy via Wikimedia Commons

With four massive engines that each produce the force of 800 cars, the C-5 sounds amazing. (Sound starts about 0:30 mark.)

Chinook helicopters fit with ease.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
US Air Force photo

Hauling an A-10 is no problem.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
US Air Force

Fighter jets fit too!

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Members of the 451st Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron aerial port flight and 22nd Airlift Squadron prepare to load a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft onto a US Air Force C-5 Galaxy cargo aircraft on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, August 18, 2011. | US Air Force photo

Here comes the M1 Abrams.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
US Air Force photo

Over 266,000 pounds of cargo and armored vehicles are loaded into a C-5 in Afghanistan.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Airmen from the 9th Airlift Squadron and 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron work with Marines from the Marine Expeditionary Brigade to load vehicles into a C-5 Super Galaxy October 6, 2014, at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. | US Air Force photo

Here the C-5 unloads an 81-foot boat for the Navy.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
A C-5 Galaxy offloads an 81-foot boat for the US Navy at Coronado Naval Base, California. | Photo by SSgt. Angel Gallardo

The C-130 is a big plane in its own right, but its fuselage fits easily inside the galaxy.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
A C-130 Hercules training fuselage is loaded into a C-5 Galaxy for transport to Stratton Air National Guard Base, New York. This was the first time a C-5 transported a C-130 fuselage. | US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ty Moore

In times of trouble, when aid is needed on a huge scale, the C-5 is a welcome sight.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
A C-5 Galaxy from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 433rd Airlift Wing is ready to depart a deployed location on another mission supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. | US Air Force photo by Capt. Jeremy Angel

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Stealth bombers strike ISIS in Libya

A training camp used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, was destroyed by a pair of stealth bombers today.


According to a report by FoxNews.com, two B-2A Spirit bombers attacked the training camp about 30 miles from Sirte. At least 85 members of the terrorist group are believed to have been killed in the mission, which involved the bombers dropping a total of 108 500-pound bombs. Unmanned aerial vehicles also took part in the attack, using AGM-114 Hellfire missiles to kill surviving terrorists.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
A B-2 Spirit drops 32 inert Joint Direct Attack Munitions Aug. 27, 2016 at the Utah Testing and Training Range.

FoxNews.com noted that the bombers were refueled five times as they flew to and from Whiteman Air Force Base.

“This action was authorized by the President as an extension of the successful operation the U.S. military conducted last year to support Libyan forces in freeing Sirte from ISIL control,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement released after the attack. “The ISIL terrorists targeted included individuals who fled to the remote desert camps from Sirte in order to reorganize, and they posed a security threat to Libya, the region, and U.S. national interests.”

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
A B-2 Spirit soars after a refueling mission over the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, May 30, 2006. The B-2, from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., is part of a continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

The use of B-2 bombers might come as a surprise as F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing at Lakenheath Air Base had been used in the past. The Navy had the guided missile destroyers USS Porter (DDG 78) and USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) in the region as well. Last year, Marine Cobras from a Marine Expeditionary Unit took part in operations against ISIS in the country.

FoxNews.com reported that this was the first action the B-2s had seen since 2011. One possible reason was the presence of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. The carrier reportedly hosted a Libyan warlord who the Russians are backing to run the war-torn country. The carrier and its escorts, including a Kirov-class battlecruiser, have substantial air-defense assets, including Su-33 Flankers, MiG-29K fighters, and SA-N-6 surface-to-air missiles.

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This Microsoft training fast tracks veterans into sweet tech careers

Solaire Brown (formerly Sanderson) was a happy, gung-ho Marine sergeant deployed in Afghanistan when she realized her military career was about to change. She was tasked with finding the right fit for her post-military life – and she knew she wanted to be prepared.

Injuries sustained during mine-resistant vehicle training had led to surgeries and functional recovery and it became clear Brown would no longer be able to operate at the level she expected of herself as a Marine.

Like many of the 200,000 service members exiting the military each year, Brown knew her military training could make her a valuable asset as an employee, but she was unsure of how her skills might specifically translate to employment in the civilian world.

Enter Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA), a program Microsoft started in 2013 to provide transitioning service members and veterans with critical career skills required for today’s growing technology industry.


www.youtube.com

MSSA is an 18-week program that provides transitioning service members and veterans with intensive training for high-paying careers in tech fields like database and business intelligence administration, cloud application development, server and cloud administration, and cybersecurity administration. Essentially, it draws on military service members’ skill sets to quickly assess, analyze, and fix a situation with the resources at hand while remaining calm and focused, this time in the virtual world. It’s a role for which they’ve already proven themselves well-suited.

“I feel like I have so many new opportunities at my fingertips and I have the ability contribute the Microsoft mission now,” says Brown.

Enrolled service members take the course as their duty assignment, either on base or at a local community campus, spending the 18 weeks receiving both classroom and hands-on training in tech products and skills. They also prep for interviews and work with Microsoft mentors to ready them for a career in the technology industry. The program boasts a graduation rate of over 90% and upon completion, graduates are guaranteed an interview with Microsoft or one of its more than 280 hiring partners.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

A new community for vets in tech

For Brown, MSSA translated to a total of 14 interviews with Microsoft. From those interviews, she received seven job offers, ultimately choosing to parlay her experience in USMC as an intelligence analyst into a security analyst in Microsoft’s own Cyber Defense Operations Center.

Just as important, though, she’s found a new sense of camaraderie with her co-workers in the tech industry, something she feared her exit from the Marines would force her to give up. She credits MSSA and Microsoft with building that community and introducing her to it.

“It has been easier to adjust to corporate world than I would have expected and I know it’s because of Microsoft being so amazing and because there are so many former military personnel where I work,” says Brown.

Job satisfaction, new purpose and a strong civilian community – it’s a vision of your future that’s worth the fight.

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5 more military myths that Hollywood taught us to believe

Hollywood likes to have fun when they showcase military life on the big screen; the more conflict and drama audiences see, the better.


Sometimes they tend to go a little overboard when telling stories and many moviegoers eat up the common misconceptions when they watch stories unfold.

Related: 5 heroic movie acts a military officer would never do

So check out these military myths that Hollywood has taught us to believe are true:

1. Michael Bay explosions

Michael Bay is widely known for his amazing camera moves and is hands down one of the best action directors out there. He has mastered the ability to move audiences through the battle space while providing them with an intense adrenaline rush…

…but he needs to work explosions because they look like fireworks.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Explosions don’t look like this unless it’s the 4th of July. (Source: Zero Media/ YouTube/Screenshot)

Here’s a real man’s explosion:

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Okay, so this one is a nuke explosion — but you get the point. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

2. Cleaning bathrooms with toothbrushes

After speaking to a few Annapolis graduates and other military veterans, no one can recall seeing a Midshipman cleaning the bathroom using a toothbrush. It could have happened a long time ago, but not in the last few decades.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Jake Huard (James Franco), on the left, polishes the bathroom tile with a toothbrush and we don’t believe it. (Source: Buena Vista/YouTube/Screenshot)

3. Taking off on your own

War is very dangerous. Leaving your squad to go run down the enemy by yourself through a sea of maze-like structures for a little extra payback is highly improbable.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

Also Read: 5 ways your platoon would be different with Rambo in charge

4. Fireball grenades

Movies love to show off hand grenades setting off massive explosions that can crumble entire rooms if not buildings with huge fireballs. It’s simply not true.

See, no fireball here. (Image via Giphy)

5. Trigger happy

An infantryman’s combat load these days consists of only a few hundred rounds. Typically, once a movie squad makes enemy contact, they begin spraying their weapons and shoot up everything.

In real life, the moment you lock onto the enemies’ position, you’re on the radio calling in mortars or getting a fire mission up. Then its game over for the bad guys.

See! It’s just so much easier. ‘Merica! (Images via Giphy)Can you think of any others? Comment below.
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Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
RAF pilots scramble to their fighters during the Battle of Britain.


The British knew the attack was coming, they just weren’t sure when. For months Hitler had made his intentions clear: He was going to invade the United Kingdom, and that invasion would start with an air assault.

And on July 10, 1940 that assault began. Phase One — known as Kanalkampf, German for “channel war” — focused on taking out shipping in the English Channel. The Royal Air Force was there to meet the Luftwaffe, and after the first day the box score was 13 to 7 in favor of the British — a surprising result for the outnumbered RAF. That day set the tone for the eventual outcome.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Spitfire makes a run on a German bomber.

The Germans had more qualified fighter pilots than the British, and their front line fighter, the Bf-109 Messerschmidt, was superior to the RAF’s Hurricane (which outnumbered the Spitfire in the inventory at the time) in speed and climb performance. However, the Hurricane had a superior turn rate and better firepower, and the British pilots used those elements to their advantage.

The air war wore on for several months, working it’s way over land as German bombers attacked both military and civilian targets. When it was finally over the RAF had lost 544 aircrew to the Luftwaffe’s 2,500. The damage to population centers like London took decades to repair, and the British repaid the favor by bombing civilian centers when the war moved east over Germany.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Damage to London after German bombing raid during Battle of Britain.

Overall, by preventing Germany from gaining air superiority, the British forced Hitler cancel Operation Sea Lion, the planned invasion of Britain.

After a ceremonial “flypast” today over London, Squadron Leader Duncan Mason who participated in the flight told the BBC: “When you think of the Battle of Britain it was one of those pivotal moments of history, it ranks up there with Trafalgar, Waterloo.

“It’s actually not just about the RAF but the resilience of the nation showed in the face of enormous adversity.”

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Old and new mix during ceremonial ‘fly past’ over London marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously summed up the Battle of Britain with this quote: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” In the same speech to the House of Commons he also said, “”… if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.'”

Now: This Vietnam-era wounder warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’ 

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This is how the U2 spy plane is taking the fight to the enemy

Nicknamed the “Dragon Lady” and developed by Lockheed Martin, the U-2 spy plane was made famous in the 1960s when one was shot down conducting a reconnaissance mission over the Soviet Union.


Today, the surveillance jet continues its duty as it searches for threats in Afghanistan. Once the pilot detects a potential hazard to coalition forces, it locks onto the attacker’s location and sends the signal 7,000 miles away to Beale Air Force Base in California. Once the base receives the incoming traffic, the surveillance analysts decode the information and track the enemy movement.

As the analysts locate the threat, the surveillance team quickly intervenes and relays the vital information down to ground troops. With the highly sophisticated onboard radio system, the U-2 spy plane can then assist in choreographing with nearby fighter jets to initiate a strike tactic on enemy forces below before they manage to assault allied forces.

With its incredible versatility, the spy plane can conduct its mission from an altitude of 70,000 feet.

Related: Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane

Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video below to witness how the U-2 Dragon Lady fights the enemy from high above the clouds.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)

Also Read: Here is how Russia could shoot down a North Korean missile

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Copy of Vietnam War troops hated the M16 and called it a piece of garbage

Vietnam War troops hated the M16 and dubbed it the “Mattel 16” because it felt more like a toy than a battle rifle.


“We called it the Mattel 16 because it was made of plastic,” said Marine veteran Jim Wodecki in the video below. “At that time it was a piece of garbage.”

It weighed about half as much as the AK-47 Kalashnikov and fired a smaller bullet – the 5.56 mm round. In short, the troops didn’t have faith in the rifle’s stopping power.

Related: This is what happens when the rules of engagement are loosened

Compounding the M16’s troubles was its lack of a proper cleaning kit. It was supposed to be so advanced that it would never jam, so the manufacturer didn’t feel it needed to make them. But the M16 did jam.

“We hated it,” said Marine veteran John Culbertson. “Because if it got any grime or corruption or dirt in it, which you always get in any rifle out in the field, it’s going to malfunction.”

The troops started using cleaning kits from other weapons to unjam their rifles.

“The shells ruptured in the chambers and the only way to get the shell out was to put a cleaning rod in it,” said Wodecki. “So you can imagine in a firefight trying to clean your weapon after two or three rounds. It was a nightmare for Marines at the time.

Towards the end of 1965, journalists picked up on mounting reports of gross malfunctions. The American public became outraged over stories of troops dying face down in the mud because their rifles failed to fire, according to a story published by the Small Arms Review.

Thankfully, the reports did not fall on deaf ears. The manufacturer fixed the jamming problems and issued cleaning kits. The new and improved rifle became the M16A1.

This video features Vietnam Marines recounting their first-hand troubles with the M16:

LightningWar1941/YouTube
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7 new weapons in the war against drones

Drones are being used by corporate and foreign spies, terrorists, and even separatists groups around the world. Here are 7 technologies that are allowing police to gain an edge against drone use by the bad guys:


1. Eagles

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
GIF: Youtube/Guard From Above

In what is one of the most awesome drone hunting videos around, a Dutch company revealed that it has trained eagles to hunt down enemy drones. While the tactic seems to be effective, bird watchers are worried about drafting already small populations of eagles into drone warfare, a tactic that can be dangerous for the birds.

2. Anti-drone drones

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
GIF: Youtube/CNET

Michigan Technological University is working on “drone falconry,” using drones armed with nets to capture other drones in flight and drag them to a secure, remote site.

3. Falcon Shield

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
GIF: YouTube/Finmeccanica – Electronics, Defence Security Systems

Like the drone falconry above, Falcon Shield aims to remove drones from populated areas or battlefields. Sensors cover the defended airspace and alert operators to an incoming drone. The operator gets a video feed showing the drone and can decide between firing on the drone, taking control of it, or alerting authorities.

4. Radiowave rifles

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Screenshot: YouTube/BattelleInnovations

The Batelle DroneDefender works by jamming the GPS and radio signals a drone needs to navigate and to received commands from its operator. The jamming device is mounted on a rifle-like weapon and creates a 30 degree cone of interference at ranges of up to 400 meters.

5. Early alert systems

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Photo: US Secret Service

While DroneShield and similar systems do not directly stop a drone, they can detect and track them, allowing people to avoid the drone until law enforcement responds. DroneShield uses microphones to detect a drone’s acoustic signature, meaning it to detect even small drones like the one that got past the White House’s radar and crashed on the President’s lawn.

6. Net guns

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
GIF: YouTube/DroneShield

Net guns are exactly what they sound like. While they allow police departments and other agencies to engage drones without worrying about signals interference or firing lethal weapons, they’re extremely limited in terms of range and lack the ability to engage any drone flying more than a few dozen feet high.

7. Wireless detection systems

Domestic Drone Countermeasures fields a wireless system that scans for RF signals. During the initial setup, it determines what local WiFi networks and other devices operate in the area, then alerts the user in the future to new signals that could be coming from a drone or other mobile transmitter.

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The crazy story of the man who fought for Finland, the Nazis, and US Army Special Forces

Larry Thorne enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private in 1954, but he was already a war hero. That’s because his real name was Lauri Törni, and he had been fighting the Soviets for much of his adult life.


Born in Finland in 1919, Törni enlisted at age 19 in his country’s army and fought against the Soviet Union in the Winter War of 1939-40, according to Helsingin Sanomat. He quickly rose to the rank of captain and took command of a group of ski troops, who quite literally, skied into battle against enemy forces.

In 1942, he was severely wounded after he skied into a mine, but that didn’t slow him down. In 1944 during what the Finns called The Continuation War, he received Finland’s version of the Medal of Honor — the Mannerheim Cross — for his bravery while leading a light infantry battalion.

Unfortunately for Törni, Finland signed a ceasefire and ceded some territory to the Soviets in 1944 to end hostilities. But instead of surrendering, he joined up with the German SS so he could continue fighting. He received additional training in Nazi Germany and then looked forward to kicking some Commie butt once more.

But then Germany fell too, and the Finn-turned-Waffen SS officer was arrested by the British, according to War History Online. Not that being put into a prison camp would stop him either.

“In the last stages of the war he surrendered to the British and eventually returned to Finland after escaping a British POW camp,” reads the account at War History Online. “When he returned, he was then arrested by the Finns, even though he had received their Medal of Honor, and was sentenced to 6 years in prison for treason.”

He ended up serving only half his sentence before he was pardoned by the President of Finland in 1948.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Getting to America

Törni’s path to the U.S. Army was paved by crucial legislation from Congress along with the creation of a new military unit: Special Forces.

In June 1950, the Lodge-Philbin Act passed, which allowed foreigners to join the U.S. military and allowed them citizenship if they served honorably for at least five years. Just two years later, the Army would stand up its new Special Forces unit at Fort Bragg, N.C.

More than 200 eastern Europeans joined Army Special Forces before the Act expired in 1959, according to Max Boot. One of those enlistees was Törni, who enlisted in 1954 under the name Larry Thorne.

“The Soviets wanted to get their hands on Thorne and forced the Finnish government to arrest him as a wartime German collaborator. They planned to take him to Moscow to be tried for war crimes,” reads the account at ArlingtonCemetery.net. “Thorne had other plans. He escaped, made his way to the United States, and with the help of Wild Bill Donovan became a citizen. The wartime head of the OSS knew of Thorne’s commando exploits.”

A Special Forces legend

Thorne quickly distinguished himself among his peers of Green Berets. Though he enlisted as a private, his wartime skill-set led him to become an instructor at the Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg teaching everything from survival to guerrilla tactics. In 1957, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and would rise to the rank of captain just as war was on the horizon in Vietnam.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

But first, he would take part in a daring rescue mission inside of Iran. In 1962, then-Capt. Thorne led an important mission to recover classified materials from a U.S. Air Force plane that crashed on a mountaintop on the Iran-Turkish-Soviet border, according to Helsingin Sanomat. Though three earlier attempts to secure the materials had failed, Thorne’s team was successful.

According to the U.S. Army:

Thorne quickly made it into the U.S. Special Forces and in 1962, as a Captain, he led his detachment onto the highest mountain in Iran to recover the bodies and classified material from an American C-130 airplane that had crashed. It was a mission in which others had failed, but Thorne’s unrelenting spirit led to its accomplishment. This mission initially formed his status as a U.S. Special Forces legend, but it was his deep strategic reconnaissance and interdiction exploits with Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, also known as MACV-SOG, that solidified his legendary status.

In Vietnam, he earned the Bronze Star medal for heroism, along with five Purple Hearts for combat wounds, War History Online writes. According to Helsingin Sanomat, his wounds allowed him to return to the rear away from combat, but he refused and instead requested command of a special operations base instead.

On Oct. 18, 1965, Thorne led the first MACV-SOG cross-border mission into Laos to interdict North Vietnamese movement down the Ho Chi Minh trail. Using South Vietnamese Air Force helicopters, his team was successfully inserted into a clearing inside Laos while Thorne remained in a chase helicopter to direct support as needed. Once the team gave word they had made it in, he responded that he was heading back to base.

Roughly five minutes later while flying in poor visibility and bad weather, the helicopter crashed. The Army first listed him as missing in action, then later declared he was killed in action — in South Vietnam. The wreckage of the aircraft was found prior to the end of the war and the remains of the South Vietnamese air crew were recovered, but Thorne was never found.

Thorne’s exploits in combat made him seem invincible among his Special Forces brothers, and with his body never recovered, many believed he had survived the crash and continued to live in hiding or had been taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese, according to POW Network.

“Many believed he was exactly the sort of near-indestructible soldier who would have simply walked back out of the jungle, and they found it hard to believe he had been killed,” writes Helsingin Sanomat.

In 1999, the mystery was finally put to rest. The remains of the legendary Special Forces soldier were recovered from the crash site. DNA confirmed the identities of the air crew, while dental records proved Törni had died on that fateful night in 1965, reported Helsingin Sanomat.

“He was a complex yet driven man who valorously fought oppression under three flags and didn’t acknowledge the meaning of quit,” U.S. Army Special Forces Col. Sean Swindell said during a ceremony in 2010.

NOW: This Green Beret’s heroism was so incredible that Ronald Reagan said it was hard to believe

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5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

When you’re asked what’s the most important tool for any U.S. service member who’s facing down a bad guy in battle, the most obvious response is his or her weapon.


When it comes down to it and the shots are flying, it’s the rifle or handgun that can make the difference between victory and defeat. But there’s a lot more to it than that, and oftentimes it’s what the trooper is actually wearing that can determine whether the bullets start flying in the first place.

Military uniform designers and suppliers over the last half century have been developing new ways to help soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines avoid fights if they want to and to survive them when things go loud. From things as simple as pocket placement and camouflage, to fabrics that won’t burn or show up in night vision goggles, the folks who build combat uniforms for America’s military have taken the best of material science and matched it with the conditions and operations troops are facing in increasingly complex and austere combat environments.

While the “modern” battle uniform traces much of its lineage to the Vietnam War, a lot has changed in the 50 years since that utilitarian design changed the course of what U.S. service members wear when they fight.

Ode to Tactical Pants

www.youtube.com

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

The Vietnam war saw the first major evolution in combat uniforms since World War II. When troops needed better access to their gear, clothing manufacturers answered the call.

(U.S. Military photo via Propper)

1. Combat uniform pockets

It was really the Korean war that introduced the pant-leg cargo pockets we all know today, according to an official Army history. But combat uniforms issued to troops in Vietnam took those to another level.

With bellowed pleats and secure flaps, there were few items the side cargo pocket couldn’t handle. Vietnam-era combat blouses also used an innovative angled chest pocket design that made it easier to reach items in the heat of battle.

In the 1980s, the U.S. military ditched the angled chest pockets for vertical ones, mostly for appearance, and the combat trousers maintained their six-pocket design until the 2000s.

But when America went to war after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, pocket placement and design took a quantum leap. Way more “utilitarian” than combat threads of Vietnam and the Cold War, the new battle rigs are like night and day — with everything from pen pockets near the wrist of a combat blouse, to ankle pockets on the trousers to bellowed shoulder pockets.

Interestingly, it was special operations troops that developed the shoulder pocket later adopted by both the Marine Corps and Army for their combat uniforms. During the opening days of the Global War on Terror, spec ops troops cut cargo pockets off their extra trousers and sewed them onto the arms of their combat jackets, giving them extra storage within an arm’s reach.

Modern combat uniforms now also incorporate internal pockets for knee pads and elbow pads, so when a trooper has to take a knee or go prone in a hurry, he’s not banging his joints on the dirt.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

Marines in Iraq were issued fire-resistant flight suits to guard against burns from IED strikes.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

2. Combat uniform material

By Vietnam, the heavy cotton and polyester of the Korean War-era uniform were replaced with a tropical-weight cotton ripstop that was wind-resistant yet cooler for troops operating in the sweltering heat of Southeast Asian jungles.

Both trousers and jackets were made of this cotton-poplin material for years, until the Army adopted the so-called “Battle Dress Uniform” in the early 1980s. That uniform was made with a nylon-cotton blended material with was more durable and easier to launder than the Vietnam-era combat duds.

But the military was forced to offer a variation of the BDU in cotton ripstop after operations in Grenada proved the nylon-cotton blend material too hot in warmer climates.

Though today’s combat uniforms are made with similar materials to those of the BDU-era, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan proved that some front-line troops need kit that’s resistant to the flame and flash of roadside bombs and IEDs.

Early on, some troops — including Marines deployed to Iraq — wore flight suits manufactured with flame resistant Nomex during combat operations. But that fabric wasn’t durable enough for the rigors of battle on the ground. So companies developed new, more durable flame-resistant fabrics for combat uniforms like Defender-M and Drifire.

Now all the services offer variants of their standard combat uniforms in flame-resistant material that protects troops against burns from improvised bombs.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

American Special Forces soldiers adopted the camouflage pattern of ARVN Rangers dubbed “tiger stripe” to blend into the Southeast Asian jungles.

(Image by Bettmann/CORBIS by Shunsuke Akatsuka via Flicker)

3. Combat uniform camouflage

Ahhh, camouflage.

It’s like the 1911 vs. (everything) debate, or the M-16 versus the AK-47 argument.

For decades, the question of camouflage patterns has been as much art as it was science. And over the last half century, the U.S. military has seen no fewer than 11 different patterns bedecking America’s warfighters.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

The six-color Desert Combat Uniform is the iconic look of Operation Desert Storm.

(U.S. Military photo via Propper)

Most Joes in the Vietnam War were clad in olive drab combat uniforms. But special operations troops began using camouflage garments in greater numbers during the war, and acted as the bleeding edge for pattern development within the wider military.

From ARVN Ranger “tiger stripes” to old-school duck hunter camo, the commandos in The ‘Nam proved that breaking up your outline saved lives. With the adoption of the BDU in 1981, the military locked into the service-wide “woodland” camouflage pattern.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

The Marine Corps was the first service in the U.S. military to dramatically change its uniforms from the BDU design. The service also was the first to adopt a “digital” camo pattern.

(U.S. Military photo via Propper)

In the early ’90s, the services developed desert combat uniform with a so-called “six-color desert” pattern (also known as “chocolate chips”). These uniforms were issued to troops conducting exercises and operations in arid climates and were more widely issued to service members deployed to Operation Desert Storm.

The woodland BDU dominated for more than 20 years until shortly after 9/11. And it was the Marine Corps that took the whole U.S. military in an entirely different direction.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

Soldiers complained that the UCP didn’t really work in any environment

(US Army)

The Corps was the first to adopt a camouflage pattern with so-called “fractal geometry” — otherwise known as “digital camouflage” — that diverges from the curvy lines and solid colors of woodland to a more three-dimensional scheme designed to literally trick the brain. While the Marines adopted a digital woodland pattern and a desert version in 2003, the Army decided to try a single pattern that would work in a variety of environments a year later.

Dubbed the Universal Combat Pattern, or “UCP,” the green-grey pallet flopped, with most soldiers complaining that instead of working in a bunch of environments, it made Joes stand out in all of them. As in Vietnam, special operations troops engaged overseas adopted a commercial pattern dubbed “Multicam,” which harkened back to the analog patterns akin to woodland.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

The Navy recently adopted a new camouflage uniform in a pattern developed by the SEALs.

(U.S. Navy)

Pressure mounted on the Army to ditch UCP and adopt Multicam, and by 2015, the service abandoned the one-size-fits all digital pattern and adopted Multicam for all its combat garments.

Likewise, the Air Force and Navy experimented with different patterns and pallets since the Army adopted UCP, with the Sea Service issuing a blue digital uniform for its sailors and the Air Force settling on a digital tiger stripe pattern in a UCP pallet. In 2016, the Navy ditched its so-called “blueberry” pattern for one developed by the SEALs — AOR 1 and AOR 2 — which looks similar to the Marine Corps “MARPAT” digital scheme.

The Air Force still issues its Airman Battle Uniform in the digital tiger stripe pattern to all airmen except those deploying to Afghanistan and on joint missions in the combat zone.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

New uniforms incorporate innovative technology from the outdoor sports industry.

(DoD)

4. Combat uniform design

Aside from the rapid development and deployment of new camouflage patterns, some of the most impressive changes to U.S. military combat uniforms have been with their overall design.

Gone is the boxy, ill-fitting combat ensemble of troops slogging through the rice paddies and jungle paths of Southeast Asia. Today’s battle uniform traces its design to the high-tech construction of the extreme outdoor sports world, from high-altitude climbing to remote big game hunting.

Troops in the services now have uniforms that have pre-curved legs and arms, angled and bellowed pockets that stay flat when they’re empty, Velcro closures and adjustable waists. The services even use specially-designed combat shirts that ditch the jacket altogether and use built-in moisture-wicking fabric to keep a trooper’s torso cool under body armor yet provide durable sleeves and arm pockets for gear needed in the fight.
With integrated pockets for knee pads and elbow pads, the new combat uniforms’ design takes “utilitarian” to a whole new level.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

US Marines inside the Citadel in Hue City rescue the body of a dead Marine during the Tet Offensive.

(Photo via Flickr)

5. Combat armor

Aside from the actual clothing an American combat trooper wears, there are a host of new protective items that make up his or her battlefield loadout. These items have evolved exponentially over the last half century, and many uniform manufacturers have supplied protective accessories to integrate with their clothing.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

Students from the Saint George’s University of Medicine pose with a member of the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Urgent Fury.

(U.S. Military photo via Flickr)

Late in the war, the Vietnam-era soldier or Marine was issued a body armor vest that would protect him against grenade fragments and some pistol rounds. Made of ballistic nylon and fiberglass plates, the armor was best known as the “flak jacket.” It was heavy and didn’t protect against rifle rounds.

In the 1980s, the U.S. military developed a new body armor system using steel plates and Kevlar fabric that could stop a rifle round. First used in combat during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, the so-called Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops, or PASGT, was a revolution in personal protection.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

Today’s armor and helmets are lighter, more protective and offer a host of methods to modify the loadout for specific missions.

(Photo courtesy Propper)

Still heavy and bulky, armor evolved over the years since 9/11 to be lighter, with a slimmer profile and much more protective than the flaks of yore. Today’s vests can protect against multiple armor-piercing rifle rounds, shrapnel and pistol shots — all in a vest that weighs a fraction of its PASGT brethren.

Like the armor vest, the “steel pot” of Vietnam has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. The new Army Combat Helmet and Marine Corps Lightweight Helmet can take multiple bullet strikes and shrapnel hits, allow for greater mobility than the Vietnam-era one or the PASGT and now incorporate various attachment points for accessories like night vision goggles, IR strobes and cameras.


Articles

DFAC or chow hall? Different names for the same things across the services

Civilians talk about feeling lost when vets start using military lingo, but even vets can get lost when talking to members from other services. Here are 8 things that are common between the branches but with wildly different names:


1. DFAC, chow hall, or galley?

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeffry A. Willadsen

Basically, it’s the cafeteria. While the Army and Air Force both officially use the term DFAC, or dining facility, most soldiers and Marines refer to it as the “chow hall.” In the Navy, it’s the galley. All services employ “cooks” in the kitchen. In the Army, the soldiers tasked to help the cooks are KP, kitchen patrol. In the Navy, cooks are assisted by “cranks.”

2. Article 15, ninja punch, captain’s mast

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Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Dietrich

There are a lot of ways to get in trouble in the military, and the services have plenty of ways to describe it. While soldiers and airmen typically refer to Article 15s and nonjudicial punishment, Marines may call NJP a “ninja punch.” When Sailors get in big trouble, they can face captain’s mast, an Article 15 from the commander of the ship. Admiral’s mast is one step worse. Serious infractions can result in a “big chicken dinner,” slang for a bad conduct discharge.

3. Shammers, skaters and broke d*cks

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Photo: US Army Spc. Olanrewaju Akinwunmi

When a sailor or Marine wants to get out of duty, they “skate” out of it. The Army equivalent is “shamming.” For all the services, shamming or skating by claiming medical issues can get you labeled as a “broke d*ck.”

4. Flak vest or body armor

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Photo: US Army

When someone is wearing all their armor and equipment, they’re in “full battle rattle.” For the Army, this means they’re wearing their body armor. While Marines are likely to be wearing the same armor, they’ll grab their “flak.” The flak vest, as seen in most Vietnam war movies, was the predecessor of modern body armor.

5. Deck vs. ground

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Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Rivera Rebolledo

While the Army and the Air Force continue to use the normal words for ground and floor, the Navy and Marine Corps train their people to use the word “deck.” For pilots, the ground is the “hard deck,” something Top Gun apparently made a mistake translating.

6. Barracks mill, private news network, or the scuttlebutt

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Photo: US Army

Rumors. The Army has a bunch of privates living in the barracks where they swap rumors like a knitting circle. Hence, “barracks mill” and “private news network.” For the Navy, their sailors congregate around water fountains referred to as the scuttlebutt. Eventually, “scuttlebutt” became the word for the rumors themselves.

7. Head and latrine

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sailors and Marines visit the head, and soldiers hit the latrine.

8. Hooah vs. Oorah vs. Hooyah

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Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Christopher Q. Stone

The services can’t even agree on how to grunt. The Army says “Hooah,” when they want to motivate each other, or really to say anything besides, “no.” The Marines prefer “Oorah” while the Navy says “Hooyah.” (The Air Force has no equivalent.)

Articles

How to stay connected with your kids, from deployments to business trips

When kids are apart from a parent, it’s rough on everyone. For some families, it’s a week-long business trip to Minneapolis. Others it’s months on an oil rig. And for the more than 2 million families of the military and National Guard, it’s a year-long deployment overseas. That requires a unique level of parental fortitude, but there are things the moms and dads in the armed forces can teach any parent who needs to be away from the kids for a bit.


Also read: Watch Jimmy Fallon and The Rock beautifully reunite a military family

Bana Miller is the Communications Director of Blue Star Families, an organization that provides resources and info to military families. She’s also a mother of 3 and her husband has been on active duty for their entire 12-year marriage — so she’s basically a 5-star general of deployment coping management. Miller has a bunch of military-grade tips on how to stay connected to your kid and mitigate their anxiety when you can’t physically be there for them.

Prepare the family

Depending on how old your kid is, they might not really understand what’s going on. Help them prepare by spending quality time as a family. For military parents, this is usually block leave the week before deployment. For business parents, you can just block out the weekend before you take off and make sure there’s there’s one-on-one time together. It can be just hanging out and watching Paw Patrol, or doing some special activity that you both enjoy.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Flickr / IMCOM Korea

Miller also recommends reading books or watching shows that talk about leaving. Even Daniel Tiger knows “grown-ups come back.” “I have 3 kids under 4, and I’ve found reading stories helps them grasp the hard concepts,” she says. Just keep it kid-appropriate. Your 3-year-old isn’t ready for All Quiet On The Western Front.

Get everyone synchronized

Kids can’t grasp the concept of leaving the playground in 5 minutes, so telling them dad will be gone for a year is not something they can internalize. Long stint or short trips, Miller says setting up countdown rituals can help. Some ideas include adding to a candy jar every day (or, because kids like candy, subtracting). Or you can make a paper chain where they remove a link weekly for a long deployments, or daily to understand when you’re coming back from that conference in Miami. Also, you can help them understand time differences by setting up a command station with one clock for the household and one for the other parent’s time zone. Hey kids, it’s tomorrow in Guam!

Leave a little bit of yourself behind

You can’t be there to cuddle or give them a hug, but a plush version of you can. There’s a company called Daddy Dolls that takes photos of service members and makes them into a doll for their kid. “It’s kind of like Flat Stanley. That way the parent can still be in pictures and at milestone events,” Miller explains. “Anything physical or tactile that they can hold onto is great.” If you’re afraid your family is going to start using that doll like a voodoo pincushion, you can record their favorite bedtime stories. Or, if you kids would rather listen to Bryan Cranston read an audiobook, get one of Toymail’s Talkies to send your kid messages via stuffed animal.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Flickr / Hamster_Rave

We have the technology

It’s easy enough to use the Wi-Fi at your Holiday Inn Express to FaceTime the family for dinner, but for those locked into the schedule of active duty, it’s more difficult. Miller says everyone should be able to find a regular time each week to check in. “It’s such a great tool to feel like they’re part of the day-to-day routine of being home.”

One thing that your kids can learn from families with a parent on deployment, it’s that they learn to roll with things. She says if you can’t connect one evening, don’t make a big deal out of it. “If military families have one thing in common, it’s flexibility,” says Miller. “The parent at home can say, ‘OK, looks like the computer’s not working today, we’ll try again next time.’ And that’s where having those recorded story books or something a child can play on their own time is great.”

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

Care packages work both ways

“The care package has been around for as long as we’ve been deploying soldiers, and it’s great for the family and home to have that ritual of putting it together,” says Miller. Even if you’re not serving, but are just going to be gone for an extended period, make sure you have the hotel address. Remember, it doesn’t just have to be loaded up with treats (although nobody ever turned down a Rice Krispie Treat). The box gives kids the opportunity to share letters and pictures, and write back on the same note. Try taking turns writing pages in a shared journal. It will teach your kid what communication was like before emojis.

This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds
Flickr / DVIDS

Build your support team

Miller says service members rely on the community for support, and you should too. Let teachers, coaches, and any other important adult in your kid’s life know that they need to communicate with both parents. It’s 2016, so schools now use electronic mail; all it takes to keep you in the loop is a CC. “For the child too, knowing that while their parent may not be able to do in-person parent-teacher conferences there’s still communication, can be fantastic reassurance,” says Miller. Although contributing to the bake sale may be a bridge too far.