History

The brutal attack that made Dracula so famous

Vlad Tepes, known as both the Impaler and Dracula, was made famous when Bram Stoker wrote his novel, but it was a bloody 1462 military campaign that cemented his status in the 15th century and made him the inspiration for the famous vampire monster that bears his name.

The book character Dracula is based on Vlad Dracula, a 15th-century royal often known as Vlad the Impaler for his tendency to place human beings on spikes, largely because of a stunning June, 1462, attack on the armies of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II.

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Veterans

This World War II vet wants birthday cards for his 96th birthday

Duane Sherman served on the USS Lamson in World War II and received a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in a kamikaze attack on December 7, 1944. Now, he's turning 96 and his daughter is asking for help celebrating his big day.

A World War II veteran who served in the Navy and earned the Purple Heart after suffering wounds when a kamikaze attack hit his destroyer in December, 1944, told his daughter that he wasn't interested in celebrating his 96th birthday on December 30 because he didn't have anyone to celebrate it with.

Now, his family is asking for birthday cards to help cheer him up.

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In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

The Suwalki Gap is the border between Poland and Lithuania that is anchored on one side by the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and a close ally of Russia, Belarus, on the other end. If Russia quickly rushes across the gap, it could cut three NATO countries off from the rest of the alliance.

There are a number of potential vulnerabilities in NATO territory if the Cold War ever goes live, but three countries are especially scared of an attack to close the Suwalki Gap, a spot where NATO territory is only 60 miles wide with Belarus on one side, Russia's Kaliningrad Enclave on the other, and relatively flat ground with little forest or natural defenses in the middle.

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GEAR & TECH

Russia hasn't shown its laser weapon fire a single time

The internet is in a tizzy over Russia's new video of its hyped laser weapon, but we still haven't seen it fire. And these claims are coming from a regime known for over-hyping and under-delivering when it comes to advanced weaponry.

As Russian propaganda blows up the internet with the unveiling of a new laser weapon, this is just a friendly reminder of a couple things. First, Russia lies about new tech all the time. Second, it hasn't shown the weapon fire. And, most importantly, this weapon was originally announced in a press conference filled with other over-hyped weapons.

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Could Russia invade Eastern Europe and win?

Tensions with Russia have been rising for years, and the seizure of Ukrainian Coast Guard ships have put the question of Russian invasion front and center once again. If Russia goes after NATO countries like Estonia and Norway, can it use its massive armored forces to win?

The folks over at The Infographics Show have asked a question that's come up repeatedly over the last few years: If NATO and Russia actually get into a full-on war, could Russia successfully invade Eastern Europe and hold it for its own use or use it as a bargaining chip for greater power at the peace table?

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History

The Merchant Marine suffered the worst losses of World War II

The U.S. Merchant Marine, an organization made up almost entirely of civilian sailors, suffered the worst losses of World War II as nearly 4 percent of its members were killed or lost in the fighting, worse than the Marine Corps or any other military branch.

It may sound crazy, but an organization suffered worse losses in World War II than the Army, the Marine Corps, or even the Navy that was in charge of guarding it: The Merchant Marine, the sailors who crewed ships carrying goods from U.S. factories to European battlefields, lost nearly 4 percent of its members in the war.

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NEWS

Search underway after 2 Marine Corps aircraft crash

Two Marine Corps aircraft have crashed during an aerial refueling in routine training, reportedly involving seven crewmembers from a KC-130J and an F/A-18D Hornet. A search-and-rescue mission is underway and Japanese Self Defense Forces are assisting with the search.

Update: One Marine has been recovered alive but a second unfortunately perished. Five Marines are still missing and search-and-rescue operations are still underway.

A search is underway for the crews of two U.S. Marine Corps aircraft involved in an aerial crash near Japan at 2 a.m. on December 6 during aerial refueling operations.

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History

The barely successful inventor who pioneered repeating rifles

The fact that your M4 or M16 can spit 15 rounds per minute is partially thanks to a largely forgotten inventor. Walter Hunt didn't achieve lasting fame and was usually awash in debt despite creating all sorts of revolutionary things, like the repeating rifle, the safety pin, and an improved fountain pen.

Quick! Name the inventor who has had the most impact on the military. Are you thinking of John M. Browning who invented all sorts of weapons including the M2 .50-caliber machine gun? Maybe Oliver Winchester, Benjamin Tyler Henry, or Horace Smith, the creators of Smith & Wesson?

Well, all of those guys owe their weapon success, in part, to the inventiveness of one man that's largely forgotten by history.

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GEAR & TECH

SciFi loves nuclear hand grenades, but you'll never get one

Nuclear hand grenades pop up in all sorts of science fiction, from Star Wars to Fallout, but you'll never throw one unless you can send a 50-pound kettlebell 350 yards.

Ever since America figured out nuclear bombs, science fiction writers have flirted with all the different ways that nuclear weapons could work. But while lots of SciFi weapons have come to fruition, like drones and pain rays, the nuclear hand grenade will always be a weapon of fiction.

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