Today in military history: First man on the moon - We Are The Mighty
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Today in military history: First man on the moon

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong — a U.S. Navy Aviator and Korean war veteran —  became the first man to walk on the moon. 

The Apollo program was created when America was trailing behind the Soviets during the space race of the cold war. NASA worked furiously — and with a budget of 24 billion dollars, which is about 100 billion dollars today — to beat the Soviets to the moon.

On July 16, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center for the moon, with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr, and Michael Collins on board.

Four days — and 240,000 miles — later, Armstrong was the first to exit the lunar module “Eagle” onto the moon’s powdery surface, where he famously said: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Buzz Aldrin joined moments later, and the two did what anyone would do: run some scientific tests, take some pics, and call the president. 

Seven days later, they returned to a country of adoring fans, astonished that these brave astronauts accomplished a feat few thought possible. They filled out all of their paperwork, which included customs documents accounting for the harvested moon rocks and travel vouchers — because, technically, they were listed as troops on TDY.

When Col. Buzz Aldrin got his travel voucher back, he was approved for $33.31 for his time spent and distance traveled. Yep. A whole thirty-three bucks for going to the moon. Accounting for inflation, that’s all of about $244.33 today. 

But no amount of money could compare to the glory of being the first human beings on the moon. 

Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins left behind their timeless footprints, an American flag, and a plaque that read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon July 1969 AD. We came in peace for all mankind.”

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In the ongoing fight between Delta Force and ISIS, Deltas win again

A 200-strong force of U.S. special operators, led by the U.S. Army’s elite Delta Force, recently arrived in Iraq. Until now, the bulk of U.S. efforts against the terror organization have been through aerial operations, bombing and air support for Kurdish and Iraqi forces on the ground. The United States now has this significant ground combat force in the country, the first combat troops on Iraqi soil since the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2011.


Taking a page from General Stanley McChrystal’s special operations playbook from the Iraq War circa 2004-2006, today’s operators established internal intelligence networks to tackle the ISIS networks working against Iraqi and American forces. This strategy led to the death of al-Qaeda in Iraq’s (what would become ISIS) most notorious leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2006. Now, the strategy has led to the capture of a “significant” ISIS operative in Iraq and is currently questioning him for intelligence information.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Is there anything more awesome than seeing US Special Forces inside a captured ISIS compound?

Related: SEAL Team 6’s plan to surrender and 7 other amazing JSOC tales

This isn’t the first time an ISIS (or Daesh, as the group loathes to be called) fighter has been captured but it is the first time a “significant” member of the terror group has been captured. It is also the first time the “network vs. network” strategy yielded such a result – just weeks after it was was raised. The high value detainee has not been identified. The “key operative” has been moved to Irbil, in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq, where, eventually he will be handed over to Iraqi authorities.

The ground force is known as a “specialized expeditionary targeting force” at the Pentagon, and their missions will include intelligence gathering through raids on ISIS strongholds, grabbing papers, hard drives, and capturing operatives. The presence of the U.S. special operators also gives the United States the ability to conduct hostage rescue raids. These raids will continue and will look like the May 2015 raid that killed Abu Sayyaf, the ISIS oil minister, along with mobile phones, laptops, and other intel.

The exact timing of the latest raid was not disclosed.

U.S. Army Delta Force soldier Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler was killed by enemy gunfire during a raid to rescue 70 hostages from an ISIS compound in Iraq in 2015. His death was the first American combat fatality since the U.S. returned to Iraq for Operation Inherent Resolve.

 

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10 incredible Post-9/11 combat medics who risked their lives to save others

In the field, everyone is working to ensure that nothing goes wrong. But, when the mission goes sideways, everyone thanks the heavens for the medic. The one who rushes through fire to save their patients.


Here are 10 medics who saw patients in danger and rushed to their aid, sometimes sustaining serious wounds or even dying in their attempt to save others.

1. Ranger platoon medic treats patients while enduring repeated IED blasts

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Photo: US Army Patrick Albright

Spc. Bryan C. Anderson was part of an Army Ranger assault force sent after a high-value target in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan on Oct. 5, 2013. When the team landed, an insurgent successfully fled the target building and began running away. An element of soldiers moved to catch him but they were struck by a suicide bomber and triggered two pressure plate IEDs.

Anderson rushed to the aid of the wounded even though he knew they were in the middle of a pressure plate IED belt. Over the next few hours, Anderson crisscrossed the IED belt treating the wounded. During a particularly harrowing 30 minutes, seven IEDs detonated within 10 meters of Anderson, according to his official award citation. Though some of his patients from that night died, two severely injured Rangers survived because Anderson continued rendering aid despite experiencing his own traumatic brain injuries. Anderson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

2. Corpsman riddled with shrapnel pulls 4 injured comrades from vehicle while under fire

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Photo: US Marine Corp Mike Garcia

During an American-Afghan convoy, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Benny Flores was in a vehicle struck by an IED. Despite having his own shrapnel injuries and taking incoming enemy fire, Flores began treatment of a Marine in his vehicle and then aided the Marine in taking cover. He ferried to and from the vehicle three more times, treating and moving to cover a wounded Afghan police officer and two more Marines, all while under enemy fire and without receiving treatment for his own wounds. Flores received the Silver Star.

3. Pararescueman drops into IED field to save Army Pathfinders

On May 26, 2011, a squad of U.S. Army pathfinders was crippled when it struck multiple IEDs during a mission. Air Force Staff Sgt. Thomas H. Culpepper, Jr. was voluntarily hoisted down to the battlefield only 25 meters from a known IED. Culpepper and his teammate stabilized the pathfinders and then began hoisting them into the helicopter. On the last lift, Culpepper and the final patient were nearly dropped from the helicopter when it experienced a sudden loss of power.

They were recovered into the bird and Culpepper received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

4. Corpsman continues treating casualties after being shot in the back

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier

On April 25, 2013, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kevin D. Baskin was part of a Marine task force pinned down by enemy fire outside Kushe Village, Afghanistan. Baskin treated an initial casualty under heavy fire and then moved him to a casualty evacuation vehicle. Immediately afterwards, Baskin was shot in the back. He continued to treat new casualties and refused medical treatment for his own. He supervised the evacuation of the wounded and laid down cover fire for the evacuation of the team. His actions were credited with saving the lives of four Marines and he was awarded the Silver Star.

5. Medic bounds up to wounded casualties under fire, then treats them until he dies of his own wounds

On March 29, 2011, a group of soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division were clearing a known insurgent strong point when they came under a complex ambush from enemy fire. Three members of the lead element were injured immediately. Spc. Jameson L. Lindskog bounded from the rear of the element to the troops in contact while under fire so heavy that the bullets destroyed cover whenever he moved behind it.

Lindskog triaged the casualties and began treatment. While working on an Afghan National Army soldier, Lindskog was struck in the chest by an enemy round. He remained lucid and refused treatment, asking to stay on the battlefield and give instructions to those rendering aid. His instructions saved the lives of two other men, but he died of his wounds before being evacuated. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

6. Pararescue jumper treats nine casualties by moonlight while under withering enemy fire

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Photo: US Air Force Justin Connaher

The 101st Airborne called for support during an operation after they took two casualties on Nov. 14, 2010. Air Force Para rescue jumper Master Sgt. Roger D. Sparks was on the response team. His helicopter arrived and was circling the objective when the situation on the ground suddenly intensified and the 101st took four new casualties. Sparks and another airman began a 40-foot descent to the battlefield below despite the increased enemy activity.

While descending, they came under intense enemy fire and their lowering cable was struck three times by bullets. Immediately after landing, the pair was attacked with an RPG round that knocked them both from their feet. Running across the objective while under increasing machine gun and RPG fire, Sparks treated nine wounded soldiers by moonlight, many with serious problems like punctured lungs, eviscerations, and arterial bleedings. He returned to the landing area but stayed on the ground, coordinating the evacuation until the last soldier was loaded. His actions saved five lives and resulted in the remains of four Americans making it back to their families. He was awarded the Silver Star.

7. Medic shields casualties from mortar fire until forced to move, continues treatment throughout

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Photo: US Army Pfc. Scott Davis

Spc. Monica Lin Brown was an airborne medic on a combat patrol in Afghanistan on April 25, 2007, when an up-armored Humvee struck an IED. The IED was the first part of a complex ambush on the column. Brown moved 300 meters under enemy fire to the burning vehicle and began caring for the wounded. She triaged them onsite and then moved them with the help of the platoon sergeant into a nearby wadi. She continued to render aid and used her own body as a shield while 15 enemy mortar rounds landed within 100 meters of her position.

The mortar fire eventually forced her to move the wounded two more times as she continued treating and shielding them. The wounded men were eventually medically evacuated and Brown was awarded the Silver Star.

8. Medic dies after treating casualties under ‘barrage of RPG fire’

On Nov. 12, 2010, Spc. Shannon Chihuahua was part of a blocking position in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. A squad providing overwatch suddenly came under a complex enemy attack with small arms, machine guns, and RPGs. Chihuahua ran from a relatively safe position into the heat of the fighting to treat the wounded.

Moving from soldier to soldier providing care, Chihuahua eventually found himself the focus of the enemies’ attacks. Chihuahua went down under a “barrage of RPG fire,” according to Sgt. Kevin Garrison, the squad leader whose position was the focus of the first attack. Chihuahua was awarded the Silver Star.

9. Stryker medic pulls three casualties from a burning Bradley

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Spc. Christopher Waiters makes his first attempt to enter a burning Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle on April 5, 2007 in Iraq. Photo: US Army

Staff Sgt. Christopher Bernard Waiters was the senior medic in his Stryker company when a Bradley Fighting Vehicle struck an IED and began to burn with its crew still inside on April 5, 2007. He parked his vehicle in a security position and immediately engaged two enemy fighters.

He then ran to the burning Bradley on his own and pulled the driver and vehicle commander out. He treated both and escorted them back to his own Stryker. That was when he learned another soldier was in the troop compartment. He ran back and entered the burning vehicle, falling back only for a moment when the 25-mm ammunition began to explode. He re-entered, saw the deceased soldier and went for a body bag. Another medic retrieved the body while Waiters drove the wounded back for further treatment.

10. Medical sergeant performs surgery in the open while under fire

As the medical sergeant on a civil affairs team, Staff Sgt. Michael P. Pate was part of a patrol in Afghanistan. The group came under heavy fire from multiple machine gun positions and at least six other enemy shooters. Early in the ensuing firefight, the rear man of the element was shot in the back. Pate and his team leader rushed to the man and drove him to what little cover was available, a six-inch deep ditch. Though his patient was slightly covered, Pate was fully exposed as he performed surgical interventions on the wounded man. During this time, Pate also assisted the joint-terminal attack controller with directing airstrikes and coordinated the medical evacuation for the wounded. He was awarded the Silver Star.

NOW: Medal of Honor: Meet the 16 heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan who received the nation’s highest honor

OR: This female vet is one of history’s most decorated combat photographers

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That time Japanese soldiers cannibalized US pilots in World War II

In 1944, pilots shot down over Chichi Jima Island in the Pacific were captured and executed by the Japanese before being turned into gruesome dishes for the soldiers defending the island.


Today in military history: First man on the moon
Photo: US Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation

The U.S. Navy bombed and shelled the Bonin Islands from late 1944 to early 1945 in anticipation of the invasion of Iwo Jima and the eventual attack on Tokyo. One of the islands, Chichi Jima, had a small airfield, crack anti-aircraft gunners, and communications that supported Japanese positions on other islands.

A number of planes were shot down while attacking Chichi, including one piloted by Navy Lt. (and future President) George H. W. Bush. Bush was rescued by a submarine and was one of the few aviators to go down around Chichi and survive.

A more grisly fate awaited at least four of the 20 Americans who bailed out near the island. Japanese defenders were led by navy Rear Adm. Kunizo Mori and army Maj. Gen. Yoshio Tachibana who approved executions and allowed cannibalism on the island.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Australian Sgt. Leonard G. Siffleet is executed by a Japanese soldier in World War II. Photo: Australian War Memorial

Tachibana, with the approval of Mori, had the American prisoners executed by beheading. The day after an early execution, a Japanese major had flesh of the executed prisoner prepared for a feast. The island doctor removed a liver and a portion of the human thigh.

The body of the flyer was served at a large, alcohol fueled banquet that night.

The practice continued on the island for some time, and at least four victims were partially or fully eaten.

Marve Mershon, Floyd Hall, Jimmy Dye, and Warren Earl Vaughn were all victims of the practice, according to James Bradley in his book, “Flyboys.”

American aviators weren’t the only ones to fall victim to Japanese troops practicing cannibalism. Chinese, Australian, and Indian troops were all executed and eaten by Japanese soldiers.

In some cases, including those of the Americans on Chichi Jima, the leaders responsible were tried for war crimes and executed. Tachibana was hanged for his part in the atrocities.

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The Navy may park its most advanced ship on Kim Jong Un’s doorstep

The U.S. offered to send its “most advanced warship” to the Korean Peninsula to curb threats from North Korea, South Korean defense officials revealed.


Today in military history: First man on the moon
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) during first at-sea tests and trials in the Atlantic. (U.S. Navy)

Admiral Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, suggested stationing the stealth destroyer USS Zumwalt at a South Korean naval base at either Jeju Island or Jinhae to deter North Korea, Ministry of Defense spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said at a press conference Monday.

The $4 billion multipurpose destroyer is armed with SM-6 ship-to-air missiles, Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles, and anti-submarine weapons.

Responding to North Korean provocations, South Korea has been calling on the U.S. to deploy strategic assets to the peninsula on a permanent basis. Pyongyang conducted two nuclear tests and around two dozen ballistic missile tests last year, and 2017 began with multiple threats of an impending intercontinental ballistic missile test.

“A deployment of strategic assets is something that we can certainly consider as a deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear and military threats,” Moon explained, “We haven’t received any official offer in regard to the deployment of the Zumwalt, but if the U.S. officially makes such a suggestion, we will give serious consideration.”

“If the U.S. officially makes such a suggestion, we will give serious consideration,” he further said.

Some observers believe Harris’ proposal should not be taken literally and should, instead, be treated as a sign that the U.S. is committed to defending South Korea.

Given some of the Zumwalt’s issues, it is questionable whether the U.S. would actually deploy the Zumwalt to the Korean Peninsula.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis assured South Korea this weekend that the U.S. will stand by it against North Korea. “The United States stands by its commitments, and we stand with our allies, the South Korean people,” he explained.

“We stand with our peace-loving Republic of Korea ally to maintain stability on the peninsula and in the region, Mattis added, “America’s commitments to defending our allies and to upholding our extended deterrence guarantees remain ironclad. Any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming.”

Mattis reportedly agreed to send strategic assets to the peninsula.

The U.S. is expected to send the Nimitz-class supercarrier USS Carl Vinson and its accompanying carrier strike group, as well as strategic bombers, to South Korea to take part in the Key Resolve military exercise.

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This Black Cat was bad luck for the Japanese navy

The fighting in the South Pacific during World War II was vicious. One of the big reasons was how evenly-matched the two sides were. One plane called the Black Cat, though, helped the Allies gain a big advantage – and was an omen of ill fortune for the Japanese navy.


According to the Pacific War Encyclopedia, that plane was a modified version of the Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina. This flying boat was a well-proven maritime patrol aircraft – sighting the German battleship Bismarck in time for the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal to launch the strikes that crippled the Nazi vessel in May, 1941.

The PBY had also detected the Japanese fleets at the Battle of Midway.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
PBY-5A Catalina flying over the Aleutian Islands during World War II. (US Navy photo)

The Catalina had one very big asset: long range. It could fly over 3,000 miles, and was also capable of carrying two torpedoes or up to 4,000 pounds of bombs. The PBY drew first blood at Midway, putting a torpedo in the side of the tanker Akebono Maru. But the long legs came with a price in performance. The PBYs had a top speed of just under 200 mph – making them easy prey if a Japanese A6M Zero saw them.

The planes also were lightly armed, with three .30-caliber machine guns and two .50-caliber machine guns. In “Incredible Victory,” Walter Lord related about how two PBYs were shot up in the space of an hour during the run-up to the Battle of Midway by a Japanese patrol plane. One “sea story” related by Morison had it that one PBY once radioed, “Sighted enemy carrier. Please notify next of kin.”

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina on a patrol during World War II. (US Navy photo)

Planner found, however, that flying PBY missions at night helped keep them alive. During the the Guadalcanal campaign, the first PBY-5As equipped with radar arrived and the first full squadron of “Black Cats” intended for night operations arrived later that year. According to Samuel Eliot Morison’s “The Struggle For Guadalcanal,” the “Black Cats” were a game-changer.

These Black Cats did a little bit of everything. They could carry bombs – often set for a delay so as to create a “mining” effect. In essence, it would be using the shockwave of the bomb to cause flooding and to damage equipment on the enemy vessel. They also attacked airfields, carried torpedoes, spotted naval gunfire during night-time bombardment raids, and of course, searched for enemy ships.

Today in military history: First man on the moon

Morison wrote about how the crews of the “Black Cats” would have a tradition of gradually filling out the drawing of a cat. The second mission would add eyes, then following missions would add whiskers and other features.

Japan would try to catch the Black Cats – knowing that they not only packed a punch, but could bring in other Allied planes. Often, the planes, painted black, would fly at extremely low level, thwarting the Zeros sent to find them.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
A PBY Catalina in service with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

After World War II, many Catalinas were retired, but some served on. The last military unit to operate them was Brazil’s 1st Air Transport Squadron until they were retired in 1982, according to the website of the Brazilian Air Force Aerospace Museum.

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This Air Force crew reportedly evacuated 800 people from Kabul on a single flight

The situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. Taliban forces have taken over bases, captured stockpiles of weapons and vehicles, and have entered the nation’s capitol, Kabul. Civilians flock to the airport in hopes of boarding an airplane and fleeing the country.

A major component in the air bridge out of Afghanistan is the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command. One Air Force C-17A and its crew appears to have done the impossible and flew an estimated 800 people out of Kabul.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
A C-17A Globemaster III taxis at Dover AFB (U.S. Air Force)

C-17A reg. 01-0186, designated flight RCH (Reach) 871, is based out of Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. According to reported air traffic, the flight took off from Kabul on August 15. Following its departure, RCH 871 made radio contact to report their status. A one-minute sound recording posted online contains what sounds like an air traffic controller communicating with the flight.

“Ok, how many people do you think are on your jet?” the controller inquires. The audio only reveals one side of the conversation. “800 people on your jet?!” he asks in disbelief. “Holy…holy cow,” he says after taking a second to process that number. He goes on to commend the Air Force crew on their accomplishment and asks details about the passengers. Because the audio is one-sided, whether or not the majority of the passengers are Afghan nationals fleeing the country cannot be confirmed. However, given the situation, it is a good assumption to make. The audio concludes with the controller asking for their ETA at OTBH, the airport code for Al Udeid Air Base Qatar.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division loaded on a C-17 (U.S. Air Force)

The Boeing C-17A Globemaster III is a heavy-lifter in Air Mobility Command. It’s powered by four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 engines which produce 40,900 pounds of thrust each. According to Boeing, however, the aircraft’s official passenger capacity is 134 paratroopers with 80 sitting on 8 pallets, plus 54 passengers sitting on sidewall seats. For RCH 871 to cram 800 people onto their aircraft is an incredible feat.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
More than 670 displaced Filipinos crammed aboard a C-17 following Super Typhoon Haiyan (U.S. Air Force)

This isn’t the first time that an Air Force crew has overloaded their aircraft to save lives. In 2016, C-17s of the 535th Airlift Squadron based out of Hawaii flew mercy missions in the Philippines. The islands were hit hard by Super Typhoon Haiyan, resulting in the displacement of thousands of locals. The airmen flew in thousands of tons of food, water, and machinery to aid in relief efforts. Moreover, one C-17 evacuated over 670 Filipino civilians in a monumental humanitarian effort.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
The RAF has at least nine transports, including four C-17s, assisting with the airlift out of Kabul (RAF)

While RCH 871’s reported evacuation of 800 people is incredible, other aircraft and their crews continue to fly people out of Kabul. A fleet of KC-135R Stratotankers is performing mid-air refuelings for the relief flights, some shortly after takeoff from Kabul. Britain and the United Arab Emirates also have military aircraft involved in the ongoing evacuation efforts.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Hundreds of people run alongside an Air Force C-17 on the tarmac at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul

Unfortunately, the demand for relief flights outweighs the airlift capabilities at Kabul. As flights load and take off, people can be seen swarming the aircraft. Some cling to the landing gear in a desperate attempt to escape. Tragically, videos have been posted online of people falling to their deaths as a result.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Huge crowds gathered at the airport in Kabul

For the 800 people aboard RCH 871, and others that have managed to flee Afghanistan aboard military transports, the herculean efforts of the aircrews who got them out is literally lifesaving.

Feature Image: U.S. Air Force photo

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These stories of female concentration camp guards will haunt your dreams

At first, concentration camp guards during the Nazi regime of World War II were male. However, with the introduction of female guards to Auschwitz and Majdanek, a new era began and German officials soon learned that these incoming women were quite good at their jobs. By the end of the war, more than 3,500 women acted as camp guards, making up almost 7 percent of all Nazi guards employed.


With no special training or particular background, these women either volunteered or were recruited through shrewd marketing techniques. Mostly young women and unmarried, or possibly married to a man who worked in the camp. Many felt they were doing their duty to their country.

1. Maria Mandl

Maria Mandl was one of the head guards at Auschwitz, despite her gender, and was known for her cruelty, which aptly earned her the nickname “The Beast”. It’s supposed that she had her hand in up to half a million deaths. While she was unable to climb the ladder in her field to the very top as a woman, she had absolute control over all the female prisoners and the rest of the female employees. She was only forced to answer to one man. Her tactics vary, but tales of her behavior resonated with prisoners.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Maria Mandl after her arrest in 1945.

Many say she would stand at the entry gate and, if any inmate happened to look over at her, that individual would be taken away, never to be heard from again. She also put together an orchestra at the camp and, after regular work hours were over, the prisoners would be forced to march in time to the music. The orchestra often coincided with executions.

After Auschwitz was liberated, Mandl fled to Bavaria. After her capture, she underwent interrogations, and showed high levels of intelligence. She was turned over to Poland, and was sentenced to death by hanging.

2. Irma Grese

Grese was one of Mandl’s inferiors, who also worked at Auschwitz and served as a warden for female prisoners. Her reign, however, was short and she only made it to the age of 22 before being executed for her war crimes. This was still plenty of time for her to earn her own nickname, just like “The Beast” — her boss. Grese became known as the “Hyena of Auschwitz”.

She managed to earn the second-highest rank available to females, and routinely participated in picking which of the prisoners would go to the gas chamber.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Irma Grese in 1945.

Greece’s actions are immortalized in a memoir that was written by one of the camp prisoners. It says that Grese loved to terrify the women in the camps, and that she specifically picked women who were remotely beautiful, sick, or weak.

During her trial, witnesses said she would allow half-starved dogs to attack prisoners; she also enjoyed shooting prisoners and would beat them to death with a whip. In addition, Grese also had several love affairs at the camp, one of which resulted in a surprise pregnancy; she then entrusted one of the prisoners to give her an abortion. After the war was over, she had hoped to pursue a career in acting.

3. Hermine Braunsteiner

Braunsteines was the first Nazi war criminal extradited from the United States. Working at Majdanek, she was known as the “Stomping Mare”.

Her most infamous actions include lifting children by the hair to throw them onto trucks headed to the gas chambers, hanging young girls, and stomping women to death. She became known for her crazy tantrums and could be expected to lash out with a riding whip at the slightest provocation.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Hermine Braunsteiner in 1946.

As the Soviets approached, Braunsteiner fled to Vienna, then remained jailed for a year. She was later granted amnesty and lived in Austria, under the radar, until she met an American on vacation. They married, moved to Canada and then later to the United States.

No one knew of her past and she became known as a friendly housewife. A Nazi hunter and a reporter ran across her in Queens and exposed her actions. While her husband said he knew of her work, he did not know exactly to what extent her cruelty ranged.

4. Margot Dreschel

Dreschel headed to Poland in 1942 for the new Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp. She headed up all the camp offices and soon became known as a horrific sight for most prisoners. She often disguised herself as a doctor and went to conduct indoor selections within the camp. With a trained dog in tow, she would make all prisoners undress, take their shoes and then make them stand for hours, naked.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Margot Dreschel in 1945.

She frequently went to and from various camps to help with the selection of women and children for the chambers. She fled the camp after Germany’s surrender, and while in the Russian zone, several former prisoners abducted her and took her to the Russian Military Police. She was executed by hanging within the month.

5. Ilse Koch

Koch worked at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and later at Buchenwald. She is mostly known for her participation in an experiment during which she picked out prisoners with tattoos to be murdered and then skinned. The skins would then be used for study, as one of her colleagues was writing a paper on the relation between tattoos and criminality.

She was arrested in 1943 by the Germans for charges of enrichment and embezzlement, then acquitted in 1944; however, she was arrested again by the U.S. in 1945.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Ilse Koch, taken after her capture.

The trial process was not easy, though. During her first trial, she announced that she was eight months pregnant, from one of her many affairs. She was given life in prison and then served two years, before her sentence was lessened to four years, due to lack of evidence. However, she was re-arrested and tried again. Witnesses stated they saw her with human-skin lampshades made from the tattooed skin.

She was delusional and thought that her victims were coming back to harm her. Eventually, Koch committed suicide in her jail cell at the age of 60. Her son, who regularly visited her after being born in prison, was shocked by the news. Now, her body rests in an unmarked grave.

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The macabre way submarine kills were confirmed

Ships hunting subs faced a sort of odd challenge when it came to confirming their number of kills. After all, their target was often underwater, there weren’t always a lot of other ships around to confirm the kill, and the destroyed target would sink additional hundreds of feet under the ocean.


Today in military history: First man on the moon

“Are you sure you killed the enemy sub?” “Umm, I filled the ocean with explosives. Does that count?” “No, but that sounds awesome.”

(U.S. Navy)

But sub hunters came up with a solution. See, most of a sub sinks when it’s destroyed underwater, but some items float. These items include oil, clothes and the personal belongings of submariners, the occasional packet of documents, and, disturbingly enough, human remains.

It’s definitely kind of nasty, but it’s also good for ship commanders who need to prove they actually sank an enemy sub or five. Commanders would take samples of the water or collect pieces of oily debris.

In Britain, it was traditional by World War II to dip a bucket into the water, scoop up the soup of oil, seawater, and debris, and then keep it on the ship, often in the freezer or refrigerator if they had one.

Today in military history: First man on the moon

“We took this photo as we dropped bombs on the sub. Good enough?” “I mean, the sub still looks super intact in this photo. Not good enough.”

(U.S. Navy Reserve)

When they returned to port, intelligence officers would take the buckets to confirm the kills and collect what other info they could.

Obviously, a pile of documents or sub gear was preferred, but the bucket would do when necessary.

This physical evidence of the kill was important, and some ship and boat commanders failed to get credit for claimed kills because they brought no evidence.

Today in military history: First man on the moon

“This time, we filled the ocean with explosives, and then took a photo of the second, larger explosion that followed.” “Eh, guess that’ll work.”

(U.S. Navy)

There were other ways to get kills confirmed. If multiple ships had hydrophone and sonar operators who heard the sub suffer catastrophic danger before losing contact with the sub, their crews could confirm the kill. Or intercepted intelligence where enemy commanders discussed lost subs could be matched up with claimed kills. Photos were great for subs that were sunk near the surface.

But the preferred method was always physical evidence.

It became so well known, however, that some sub commanders would pack a torpedo tube with random debris and then shoot it into the ocean when under attack. The bubbles from air exiting the tube combined with the trash floating to the surface could fool attackers on the surface, giving the sub a chance to escape after the surface ship left.

Today in military history: First man on the moon

The Japanese I-26 submarine, a legendary sub presumed sunk in October, 1944.

Eventually, this caused commanders on the surface to prefer the collection of human remains that floated to the surface. Since it was very rare for submarines to carry dead bodies, that was usually a safe proof.

All of this makes it sound like confirming submarine kills was an imprecise science — and that’s because it was. After the war, governments exchanged documents and historians and navy officers tried to piece together which ships killed which other ships and when. Most ship crews saw an increase in their total kill count, since previously suspected kills could now be confirmed.

But some who had previously gotten credit for kills later found out that they were duped by decoy debris — or that they had gotten a confirmed kill for a sub that actually survived and limped home.

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Taking the fight to ISIS? Here’s a free rifle

Today in military history: First man on the moon
M600 screenshot from http://tracking-point.com


If you’re headed overseas to fight against Islamic State and Al Qaeda, then one company may have a cutting-edge rifle for you – at the cost of zero dollars.

Pflugerville, Texas-based TrackingPoint is offering 10 free M600 Service Rifles or M800 Designated Marksman Rifles to any U.S. organization that can legally bring them to the Middle East for the fight against terrorism.

“It’s hard to sit back and watch what is happening over there. We want to do our part,” explained the company’s CEO John McHale, in a press release. “Ten guns doesn’t sound like a lot but the dramatic leap in lethality is a great force multiplier. Those ten guns will feel like two hundred to the enemy.”

“We firmly believe that the M600 SR and M800 DMR will save countless lives and enable our soldiers to dominate enemy combatants including terrorists,” he added.

Precision Guided Rifles are designed to help overcome factors that can impact precision for shooters like recoil, direction and speed of wind, inclination, and temperature. They also work to help counteract common human errors like miscalculating range.

The M600 SR

TrackingPoint designed the M600 SR Squad Level Precision Guided NATO 5.56 Service Rifle to replace the M4A1.

The full length is 36.25 inches including the 16-inch barrel. The M600 weighs 12 pounds and has an operating time of two-and-a-half hours.

Whether you are an inexperienced or accomplished shooter, the rifle has an 87 percent first shot success rate out to 600 yards – a percentage 40 times higher than the first shot kill rate for an average warfighter, according to the company.

The rifle is also designed to eliminate targets moving as fast as 15 mph.

The M800 DMR

TrackingPoint describes this rifle as the “nuclear bomb of small arms.”

The M800 Designated Marksman Rifle Squad-Level Precision guided 7.62 was designed to replace the M110 and M14.

This rifle weighs a bit more at 14 and-a-half pounds. The full length is 39 inches with the 18-inch barrel. The M800 also has an operating time of two and-a-half hours before needing to switch out the dual lithium-ion batteries.

With the very first shot, the success rate on this rifle is 89 percent at out to 800 yards- based on the company’s evaluation.

Extrapolating from the Army’s 1999 White Feather study, TrackingPoint says this 89 percent success rate is about 33 times the success rate of first shots as kill shots by professional snipers.

The M800 DMR can hit targets moving as fast as 20 mph.

Targets

Both rifles incorporate the company’s “RapidLok Target Acquisition.” As a warfighter pulls the trigger, the target is automatically acquired and tracked. The range is also calculated and measured for velocity.  Accuracy is enhanced because all this work is accomplished by the time the trigger squeeze is completely.

Both rifles also feature tech that enables accurate off-hand shots. The image is stabilized to the sort of image you would get with a supported gun rest.

Each rifle comes with a case that includes a charger, bi-pod, 20 round mag, bore guide and link pin. It also comes ready with two batteries.

The M600 SR retails for $9995, while the M800 DMR will be available for $15,995. If you’re an interested civilian, TrackingPoint says the weapons are available to “select non-military U.S. individuals.”

On Dec. 5, the company will begin shipping the free rifles to the chosen qualified U.S, citizens who can bring the guns into the fight against terrorism legally.

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McCain takes aim at Littoral Combat Ship, wants new fleet

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain wants to restructure how the Navy buys its frigates, and possibly redesign the program to add new capabilities.


The Senate Committee on Armed Services seapower subcommittee will hold hearings this spring to reexamine the future of the frigate program.

“The frigate acquisition strategy should be revised to increase requirements to include convoy air defense, greater missile capability and longer endurance,” McCain said at an event outlining the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments’ recent U.S. Navy fleet architecture study, U.S. Naval Institute News reported.

Related: Here’s how the US is sticking it to Beijing in the South China Sea

The littoral combat ship program (LCS) is the skeleton for the Navy’s frigate strategy. Currently, the Navy pans to release a request for proposals on the new frigates in March or April.

Today in military history: First man on the moon
The US Navy littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) moors pier side at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to refuel. | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kegan E. Kay

McCain criticized the LCS program in December for costing $12 billion, but producing 26 ships, which have “demonstrated next-to-no combat capability.”

“When you look at some of the renewed capabilities, naval capabilities, that both the Russians and the Chinese have, it requires more capable weapon systems,” McCain said.

Each LCS costs around $478 million initially. But as repairs cost increase, the total amount for the 26 ships already delivered to the fleet amounts to $12.4 billion, and the Navy wants to buy a total of 40.

Should the Navy continue to purchase the LCS to bring the total number to 40, the cost will be closer $29 billion for ships that have failed to live up to capabilities promised, and continually breakdown.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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‘Restrepo’-like documentary ‘The Hornet’s Nest’ is a standout film

Another bullet slammed into the rocky slope beside journalist Mike Boettcher. The Taliban sniper fired again, sending another large-caliber bullet whizzing between the Americans who were scattered among the boulders. Boettcher kept his camera rolling but worried his son Carlos might have been hit. The father-and-son team was embedded with soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, but getting good footage was now the last thing on his mind. 

Eventually the paratroopers forced the sniper to displace, and Mike and Carlos Boettcher were reunited, both unscathed. 

“I told you don’t leave my side! This is a damn war zone, Carlos,” Mike can be heard screaming off-camera. 

When it comes to documentaries about the war in Afghanistan, Restrepo still reigns supreme. But while the award-winning documentary from Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington is the most acclaimed film of its kind, The Hornet’s Nest is a must-watch for anyone seeking a closer look into America’s longest war.

Mike Boettcher describes the documentary as a “real-life narrative feature.” The feeling that his film is more than a documentary comes from the added drama of Mike and Carlos’ strained relationship. Their final attempt to bond amid the war that surrounds them provides an additional storyline that unfolds like a scripted feature film.

Between 2010 and 2011, the duo embedded with three Army brigades and one Marine battalion on their deployments to Afghanistan. While the filmmakers survived their extended stay in Afghanistan, 44 members of the units they embedded with did not. The combat footage they recorded is as intense as any existing documentary, but the audio surpasses them all. The sounds of bullets snapping and whizzing overhead are so clear it’s hard to believe they weren’t created in a studio and added during editing.

While the combat footage is jarring and the Boettchers’ relationship is compelling, it’s the documentary’s ending that transforms The Hornet’s Nest from an average film to a must-watch. The Boettchers were present at the Battle of Barawala Kalay Valley: a two-day mission that devolved into nine days of heavy fighting. Before the Americans prevailed, six US soldiers were killed in action.

The entire battle unfolds in the film’s final act, concluding with an emotionally devastating battlefield memorial service. The final scene provides a rare glimpse into one of the most sacred military traditions. As the final roll call is read and the surviving soldiers fight to keep their bearings, it becomes difficult to watch. The heart-wrenching conclusion serves as an uncomfortable reminder of the steep cost of the war in Afghanistan.  


This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

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General Mattis’ thoughts about those ‘too busy to read’ are as awesome as you’d expect

Today in military history: First man on the moon
Wikimedia Commons


In the run up to Marine Gen. James Mattis‘ deployment to Iraq in 2004, a colleague wrote to him asking about the “importance of reading and military history for officers,” many of whom found themselves “too busy to read.”

His response went viral over email.

Security Blog “Strife” out of Kings College in London recently published Mattis’ words with a short description from the person who found it in her email.

Their title for the post:

With Rifle and Bibliography: General Mattis on Professional Reading

[Dear, “Bill”]

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.

With [Task Force] 58, I had w/ me Slim’s book, books about the Russian and British experiences in [Afghanistan], and a couple others. Going into Iraq, “The Siege” (about the Brits’ defeat at Al Kut in WW I) was req’d reading for field grade officers. I also had Slim’s book; reviewed T.E. Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”; a good book about the life of Gertrude Bell (the Brit archaeologist who virtually founded the modern Iraq state in the aftermath of WW I and the fall of the Ottoman empire); and “From Beirut to Jerusalem”. I also went deeply into Liddell Hart’s book on Sherman, and Fuller’s book on Alexander the Great got a lot of my attention (although I never imagined that my HQ would end up only 500 meters from where he lay in state in Babylon).

Ultimately, a real understanding of history means that we face NOTHING new under the sun.

For all the “4th Generation of War” intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc, I must respectfully say … “Not really”: Alex the Great would not be in the least bit perplexed by the enemy that we face right now in Iraq, and our leaders going into this fight do their troops a disservice by not studying (studying, vice just reading) the men who have gone before us.

We have been fighting on this planet for 5,000 years and we should take advantage of their experience. “Winging it” and filling body bags as we sort out what works reminds us of the moral dictates and the cost of incompetence in our profession. As commanders and staff officers, we are coaches and sentries for our units: how can we coach anything if we don’t know a hell of a lot more than just the [Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures]? What happens when you’re on a dynamic battlefield and things are changing faster than higher [Headquarters] can stay abreast? Do you not adapt because you cannot conceptualize faster than the enemy’s adaptation? (Darwin has a pretty good theory about the outcome for those who cannot adapt to changing circumstance — in the information age things can change rather abruptly and at warp speed, especially the moral high ground which our regimented thinkers cede far too quickly in our recent fights.) And how can you be a sentinel and not have your unit caught flat-footed if you don’t know what the warning signs are — that your unit’s preps are not sufficient for the specifics of a tasking that you have not anticipated?

Perhaps if you are in support functions waiting on the warfighters to spell out the specifics of what you are to do, you can avoid the consequences of not reading. Those who must adapt to overcoming an independent enemy’s will are not allowed that luxury.

This is not new to the USMC approach to warfighting — Going into Kuwait 12 years ago, I read (and reread) Rommel’s Papers (remember “Kampstaffel”?), Montgomery’s book (“Eyes Officers”…), “Grant Takes Command” (need for commanders to get along, “commanders’ relationships” being more important than “command relationships”), and some others.

As a result, the enemy has paid when I had the opportunity to go against them, and I believe that many of my young guys lived because I didn’t waste their lives because I didn’t have the vision in my mind of how to destroy the enemy at least cost to our guys and to the innocents on the battlefields.

Hope this answers your question…. I will cc my ADC in the event he can add to this. He is the only officer I know who has read more than I.

Semper Fi, Mattis

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