This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general - We Are The Mighty
Intel

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II


Air Force Capt. Roger Moseley was a test pilot who got on the bad side of base’s vice commander when he told a group of pilots that — in a world of unmanned aircraft and precision guided munitions — only dinosaurs cared about things like flying faster and higher. He was told he’d never test fly again, but the next morning he was called into the middle of the Nevada desert and offered a top-secret job that he had to agree to on the spot. Moseley did and became one of the first pilot to fly the F-117, the stealth fighter that carried the day in the skies over Iraq during Desert Storm.

Hear the full story at NPR.

Now: The Secret Air Force Program That Hid An Even More Secret Program

Featured

16 photos that show what Thanksgiving is like at war

In the middle of the Civil War the president felt like the nation needed some context, a chance to reflect on America’s collective gifts. So in 1863 Abraham Lincoln set apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”


The proclamation begins with this thought:

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”

But the creation of a national holiday didn’t end the war, and since that time American service members have spent many Thanksgivings in war zones. Here are 16 photos that show some of what that experience has been all about:

1. On the first official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863 Union troops took a break from the fighting to enjoy an actual sit-down dinner. (Photo:Nat’l Archives)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

2. Here a sailor and a Doughboy enjoy turkey legs during World War I. (Photo: Nat’l Archives)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

3. During World War II these soldiers were giving the run of a farmer’s stock of turkeys. (Photo: U.S. Army)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

4. A group of soldiers sit down for Thanksgiving meal during World War II. (Photo: U.S. Army)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

5. Thanksgiving dinner for the 1st Signal Battalion at Hamhung during the Korean War. (Photo: Department of Defense)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

6. Marilyn Monroe got in on the Thanksgiving act in the early ’60s, much to the delight of GIs serving across the globe.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

7. During the Vietnam War the Army designed special Thanksgiving Day meals that were shipped to war zones in metal tins. Yum! (Photo: U.S. Army)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

8. Members of Det “A”, 5th Special Forces Group, located north of Saigon in War Zone D line up for Thanksgiving meal. (Photo: Fold3.com)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

9. SP/4 Ron Dillon, B Co, 2nd Bn, 8th Cav, 1st Air Cav Div, shares his turkey dinner in the field with a Vietnamese dog who had wandered in for the occasion in 1967. (Photo: Fold3.com)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

10. President George H.W. Bush shared Thanksgiving with the troops in Saudi Arabia in 1990 as they got ready to invade Iraq for Desert Storm a few months later. (Photo: U.S. Army)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

11. Thirteen years later President George W. Bush followed his dad’s lead and surprised the troops by showing up in Iraq for Thanksgiving dinner. (Photo: Army.mil)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

12. In 2010 Gen. David Petraeus, CENTCOM commander, served turkey to sailors (including Petty Officer Third Class Albrian Crisotomo) while visiting the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) underway in the Persian Gulf. (Photo: Navy.mil)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

13. Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Robert Flake, from Fort Smith, Ark., serves himself aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) during Thanksgiving 2013. (DoDLive.mil)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

14. Those who get to eat their turkey in the comfort of a dining facility are relatively lucky. Here soldiers are assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade sit down for dinner at Combat Outpost McClain in 2012. (Photo: Army.mil)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

15. Those on the tip of the spear have to get resourceful to get any turkey at all. (Photo: Army.mil)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

16. Wherever our troops are serving in the world the team at WATM says “Happy Thanksgiving!” Here’s hoping AFN beams an NFL game to a widescreen TV at a FOB near you and you get all the turkey you can eat. (Photo:USO.org)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

Lists

The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


AIR FORCE

An F-16 Fighting Falcon, from the 354th Fighter Wing, sits on the flightline on March 25, 2015, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 354th FW mission is “To prepare aviation forces for combat, deploy Airmen in support of global operations and enable the staging of forces.”

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Photo: Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel/US Air Force

Twelve Air Force KC-135 Stratotankers, from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, taxi onto the runway during Exercise Forceful Tiger on Kadena Air Base, Japan, April 1, 2015. During the aerial exercise, the Stratotankers delivered 800,000 pounds of fuel to approximately 50 aircraft.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Photo: Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris/US Air Force

NAVY

PACIFIC OCEAN (March 30, 2015) An EA-18G Growler from the Wizards of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133 launches from aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) during carrier qualifications. The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is undergoing a tailored ship’s training availability and final evolution problem, assessing their ability to conduct combat missions, support functions and survive complex casualty control situations.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ignacio D. Perez/US Navy

WATERS EAST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA (April 1, 2015) Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1631, assigned to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, lowers its ramp inside the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20). Sailors and Marines from the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) are participating in the Korean Marine Exchange Program with the Republic of Korea marine corps and navy.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Barnes/US Navy

ARMY

A Soldier assigned to 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, re-arms an OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter during aerial gunnery at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Training Area, March 21, 2015.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Photo: US Army

Paratroopers assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, practice a forced-entry parachute assault on Malemute drop zone at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 18, 2015, as part of a larger tactical field exercise. The Soldiers are part of the Army’s only Pacific airborne brigade with the ability to rapidly deploy worldwide, and are trained to conduct military operations in austere conditions.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Photo: Alejandro Pena/US Army

MARINE CORPS

SIERRA DEL RATIN, Spain – U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Charles Detz III, a machine-gunner with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa, fires a tracer round from an M240B during a live-fire training exercise in Sierra Del Retin, Spain, March 24, 2015. Marines stationed at Moron Air Base utilized the Spanish training facility to conduct a variety of training missions to maintain their infantryman skills.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Photo: Lance Cpl. Christopher Mendoza/US Marine Corps

POHANG, South Korea – Republic of Korea and U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles use smoke screens during a beach raid during a combined amphibious landing at Pohang, South Korea, March 30, 2015. The Korean Marine Exchange Program demonstrates the unique ability of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to arrive in theater via amphibious shipping, along with ROK Regimental Landing Team to form an amphibious Combined Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Photo: Staff Sgt. Joseph Digirolamo/US Marine Corps

COAST GUARD

POHANG, South Korea – Republic of Korea and U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles use smoke screens during a beach raid during a combined amphibious landing at Pohang, South Korea, March 30, 2015. The Korean Marine Exchange Program demonstrates the unique ability of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to arrive in theater via amphibious shipping, along with ROK Regimental Landing Team to form an amphibious Combined Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Photos: Petty Officer 1st Class Phillip Null/US Coast Guard

POHANG, South Korea – Republic of Korea and U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles use smoke screens during a beach raid during a combined amphibious landing at Pohang, South Korea, March 30, 2015. The Korean Marine Exchange Program demonstrates the unique ability of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to arrive in theater via amphibious shipping, along with ROK Regimental Landing Team to form an amphibious Combined Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class Logan Kellogg/US Coast Guard

NOW: The 7 funniest Yelp reviews for military bases

AND: The 13 funniest military memes this week – battle buddy edition

OR: Watch the top 10 military shooter games:

Intel

Israel has an anti-vehicle suicide drone

Israel has a new drone that launches like a missile, flies over a target like a normal unmanned aerial vehicle, and then strikes with nearly twice the explosive power of a Hellfire missile.


The Harop, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries, can loiter over a target area for six hours, watching for bad guys until it’s ready to engage. Then it flies to the target, crashes into it, and detonates its 33-pound warhead.

The Harop is based on another IAI drone, the Harpy. The Harpy is suicide drone that was built specifically to find and engage radar stations.

IAI announced a successful test of the Harop June 7, according to IHS Jane’s 360, who also reported that the drone may have optional landing gear to allow for recovery when it doesn’t find a target.

Check out the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQTa7kWHSH4

NOW: The Navy wants to shoot 30 drones out of a cannon

Intel

These Incredibly Brave Activists Expose The Terror Of Living Under ISIL Control

The so-called Islamic State has people exposing its daily atrocities from the inside.


While the band of terrorists of The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attempt to masquerade as a legitimate government in their de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, a brave group of activists living inside the city have been documenting life under the brutal regime.

Also Read: The King Of Jordan Sent Out This Badass Photo In Response To ISIL

Known as Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, the group posts photo, video, and social media updates from the city.

From The Daily Beast:

[The group] follows developments in ISIS very closely and appear to be well-sourced inside the city of Raqqa, which is the so-called Islamic State’s capital. The group reported on a failed Jordanian attempt to rescue Muadh al Kasasbeh, a downed pilot from the Jordan Air Force, and his subsequent execution, burned alive, weeks before the hideous video of his murder was made public by ISIS.

Now, in an exclusive video interview from The Wall Street Journal, one of the activists has given his first in-person interview.

“Young guys they just think about going to the bars, meeting girls, and having girlfriends,” the activist says in the video. “But I think about how I will expose ISIS. How I will make the world notice my city.”

It’s a must-watch:

NOW: This Retired Navy Jet Is Finding New Life In The Fight Against ISIL

OR: Meet The Dutch Biker Gang Fighting Against ISIL

Articles

Artist takes his craft to war and back again

When Poto Liefi awoke on September 11, 2001 he wasn’t thinking about being a soldier or going to war. He was a 38-year-old commercial artist working in Los Angeles, and he had just helped launch a new Sketchers shoe campaign for Target.


Poto was good at what he did and enjoyed the work.

After Poto pivoted from fine arts to commercial arts – a few years out of art school – he went from working on clothing and backpack lines to designing shoes.

“I learned how to create a product line,” he said. “And I also learned where my work fit relative to the entire product line.”

He followed his work for Sketchers with a line of hiking boots that, in turn, turned into Taos footwear, a women’s shoe company.

Then the World Trade Center towers fell, and the Pentagon was hit.

He decided to join the Army. Most of his colleagues in the designer world thought he was crazy. Even his recruiter – after visiting his expansive glass office – asked why he was leaving a comfortable world behind.

“I wasn’t satisfied with work anymore,” Poto said. “I had the news going all the time, and I felt a sense of responsibility to do something.”

The maximum age for recruits had just been upped from 34 to 42 when Poto showed up to Fort Jackson for basic training as a 38 year-old recruit. “I lucked out big time,” he said.

After boot camp he was given a 25M Multimedia Illustrator designation. “At first I thought it was stupid to get paid peanuts for the same job I was doing on the outside,” he said. “But after I did the research I saw there was a lot more to it.”

Poto was assigned to 304th Psychological Operations Company, and in 2008 he deployed to Fallujah, Iraq. He immediately put his skills to work on posters, billboards, and web content.

“I was surprised at what we were able to do with the proper messaging,” he said. “We actually had campaigns, branding the Iraqi Security Forces. We were getting a good, consistent message on the streets, and getting locals to rally around an ideology.”

He returned to the U.S. at the end of 2008. Less than a year and a half later he was deployed again, this time to Afghanistan with the 344th Psychological Operations Company.

“Just as I’d sold Iraq to the Iraqis I had to sell Afghanistan to Afghans.”

Part of the time Poto worked with the Australian Army based in Uruzgan, and there he realized they needed to deviate from the standard Army playbook to be effective.

“We had to take our military goggles off,” he said. “We weren’t the only media outlet the locals were exposed to.”

But in spite of the challenges Poto believes they accomplished their mission. He sums up his experience at war with a simple thought: “Pride shows.”

He returned home in March of 2011, a 43-year-old corporal ready to transition back to the civilian workforce. But it was anything but a smooth process. Reintegration was tough in spite of his pre-military work experience, a circumstance he blames on his age and the stigma of post traumatic stress. It took him three years to find a full-time job.

He finally landed a job as a supply chain manager at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Corona, California.

Poto’s transition advice to veterans following him back to the civilian side is straightforward: “Never feel entitled,” he said. “Be thankful, be respectful, and be real still.”

At the same time he held fast to his creative side. One day he took the image of a soldier who’d fallen in Iraq – PFC Corrina Lau – and superimposed it into a classic war poster. The result was powerful and immediate.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

“I got very emotional reactions from the first people I showed the artwork to,” Poto said. “They said things like, ‘This is alive.'”

Poto did similar artwork for the families of other fallen warriors, and the response compelled him to brand the effort “Freedom’s On Me.”

“Freedom’s On Me is a way to keep the legacies of these service members alive,” Poto explains. “These are people that were in the military, not a bunch of robots.”

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

See more about Poto’s artwork at Freedomsonme.com and on Facebook.

Intel

What the ‘Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation’ plan is all about

It seems like North Korea is always coming up with a new kind of threat to the South. It seems that way because it’s true. Threats are a constant reminder of the nuclear missiles and conventional rockets that would destroy the South Korean capital of Seoul within 30 minutes of a war’s outbreak.


Now South Korea is letting the North know just what will happen if Pyongyang tries to make good on any threats.

In short, the South says “bring it.”

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
KM-101 105mm artillery firing exercise of Republic of Korea Army 6th Division (ROK photo)

Related: Here’s what would happen in a war between North and South Korea

The Republic of Korea’s military developed a plan to destroy North Korea, starting with the Northern capital of Pyongyang, in the event of a nuclear attack, a ROK military source told Yonhap News Agency on Sept. 10th.

“Every Pyongyang district, particularly where the North Korean leadership is possibly hidden, will be completely destroyed by ballistic missiles and high-explosive shells as soon as the North shows any signs of using a nuclear weapon. In other words, the North’s capital city will be reduced to ashes and removed from the map,” the source said.

When the North tested a nuclear device for the fifth time, the South released the descriptively-titled “Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation” plan.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
The cold weather traning of the ROK Army Special Warfare Force (ROK Army photo)

The South is trying to target the North Korean leadership, letting dictator Kim Jong-Un know just how his life will end if he launches a first strike.

South Korea has an arsenal of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles that can reach ranges up to 1,000 km. The weapons are intended to be a nuclear deterrent for South Korea, which doesn’t have its own nuclear arsenal.

Korean Missiles called Hyunmoo 2A and 2B are both ballistic missiles, meaning they deliver multiple warheads at predetermined targets. The Hyunmoo 3 is similar in design to the U.S. Tomahawk cruise missile, but carries half the conventional payload and has half the operational range.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
A Hyunmoo 3 cruise missile.

The name “Hyunmoo” in Korean means “Guardian of the Northern Sky.” Fitting for such a defensive and deterring strategy.

“The KMPR is the utmost operation concept the military can have in the absence of its own nuclear weapons,” the South Korean military source told Yonhap.

Intel

The military department you didn’t know Samsung had

Apple’s biggest smartphone competitor also makes tanks, self-propelled howitzers, and jet engines.


Billed as promoting peace and stability, Samsung Techwin is the South Korean manufacturer’s defense branch. It makes surveillance, aeronautics, automation, and weapons technology. Since its launch into the defense industry in 1983, Samsung Techwin has developed and produced artillery systems like the 155mm self-propelled Howitzer M109A2, K9 Thunder, K10 ammunition resupply vehicle, fire directions center vehicles, amphibious assault vehicles and other weapons, according to Samsung.

Samsung Techwin’s flagship K9 is currently used by Poland, Turkey, and South Korea. Watch its impressive agility at 3:40 in the video below. The K9 becomes even more impressive when combined with the K10 ammunition resupply vehicle (5:00). The K10 pulls up behind the K9 and automatically feeds more ammunition into the K9, eliminating the need of resupplying the vehicle by hand, which minimizes the risk of troop exposure. Together they create an automated weapons system for the field.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Photo: YouTube screen grab

Samsung Techwin is just one subsidiary of the 80 businesses Samsung is involved in.

Here’s a video of Samsung Techwin’s defense program:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHM1QdoRmiU

Kadrun, YouTube

Intel

An epic Blue Angels beach flyby sends tents and umbrellas flying

Sometimes a military jet providing the overhead “sound of freedom” brings with it a very strong gust of wind.


A video posted to YouTube recently shows the Navy Blue Angels practicing near a Pensacola, Florida beach, with Angel no. 5 getting so close to the shore that tents, toys, and umbrellas go flying in the air with it. No one was hurt at the time, which was on July 11, according to Fox News.

Most of the beachgoers laugh and cheer after the stunt.

Watch:

NOW: Stunning footage shows pilot’s eye view from inside a Blue Angel cockpit

Articles

These 4 fearless fighting females wrecked every enemy who stood in their way

“If you men will not go forward, then we will. We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight! We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.”


These were the words of Yaa Asantewaa, an Asante woman in what is modern Ghana calling on the men and women of Asante to fight British colonial forces at the turn of the 20th Century.

History is full of stories of such great women in combat — more than most people think.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Even in this old photo, you can tell Yaa Asantewaa was sick of your shit.

Also read: ‘You’re really pretty for being in the army’ 

Women led armies and nations, won battles, and fought wars to their very end. From Boudica’s repeated victories over Roman legions and Joan of Arc’s relief of Orléans to Mary Walker joining Sherman’s March to the Sea, women have a military legacy as old and storied as any. Here are a few modern women who stood up when the call came.

1. Margarita Neri – Mexico

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

Neri was a soldadera, a female soldier of the Mexican Revolution who traveled alongside the men. Most of the soldaderas only traveled with their husbands and didn’t fight, instead tending to the needs of their husbands. Margarita Neri was not one of these women.

She commanded more than 1,000 women in 1910 as her unit swept through Tabasco and Chiapas looting, burning, and killing. These were not unusual events in such a war, except this group’s commander was a woman who carried a bloody machete and vowed to decapitate longtime dictator Porfirio Díaz.

After a while, her bloody reputation would come to precede her. The ruthless nature of that reputation prompted the governor of Guerrero to smuggle himself out of town once he heard she was approaching.

After the war ended, the soldaderas returned to their homes without recognition of their contributions or pensions for the veterans. Many died homeless and destitute.

2. Marie Marvingt – France

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

If ever there were a Jane Of All Trades, it was Marie Marvingt. Raised in the Lorraine area of France, she was a champion shooter, athlete, and aviation pioneer. She is the godmother of aeromedical evacuation, developing the concept of air ambulances before World War I.

When World War I broke out, she disguised herself as a man and served as a front line soldier in France. After being discovered and sent home, she was requested by Marshal Ferdinand Foch to join an Italian mountain regiment in the Southern Alps.

In 1915, she became the first female combat pilot ever when she began flying bombing missions on German bases and in German-held territory. The interwar years saw her working as a journalist and war correspondent. While in Morocco, she invented a metal ski method for landing airplanes on sand.

During WWII, she formed a nurses parachute unit, who would drop nurses into combat zones when weather wouldn’t permit air ambulances to land. When France fell, she became a member of the Maquis – the core of the French Resistance.

3. Sabiha Gökçen – Turkey

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

Gökçen was the first Turkish female combat pilot, and some believe she was the first female combat pilot, though that claim is disputed. What isn’t disputed is her childhood as one of eight adopted children of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, father of modern Turkey.

As such, she was able to learn to fly in Russia. Though she was not able to attend the Turkish War College, Kemal, as her patron, ensured she received an education in combat operations anyway at the Turkish Military Aviation Academy.

Gökçen later wrote “Atatürk tested her by asking her to press a gun against her head and pull the trigger” and “she did not flinch.” It was this unflinching devotion which put her in the Easter regions of the country. She provided close air support to Turkish troops suppressing what would come to be called the Dersim Rebellion. Gökçen personally bombed the home of the insurgent leader, killing him and many of his lieutenants.

She would spend much of her career training pilots as an officer in the Turkish Air Force.

4. Lyudmila Pavlichenko – Soviet Union (Ukraine)

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
Lyudmila Pavlichenko is regarded as the most successful female sniper in history.

Hell hath no fury like a Ukrainian woman scorned by Nazis. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, a senior at Kiev University volunteered to join the Red Army infantry, declined being placed as a nurse, and opted to be a sniper instead, despite the staggering 75 percent loss rate for female snipers.

In her audition to be a sniper, she had to target two Romanians aiding Germans on a hill near the front. After she picked the two off, she was accepted, but did not tally the Romanians into her final kill count because “they were test shots.”

By the end of 1942, Pavilchenko had 309 confirmed kills, including 36 counter-sniper wins. She was wounded four times, including shrapnel wounds to the face. She was so successful, the Germans tried to bribe her with chocolate and a commission to defect and join the German army. When that didn’t work, they threatened to tear her to 309 pieces.

She wasn’t afraid. Pavilchenko was elated to know the Germans were keeping track. On a tour in the US to foster public opinion for the allies opening a second European front, Pavilchenko described her feelings on her daily life as a sniper as  “uncomplicated,” remarking: “dead Germans are harmless.”

Articles

This was the secret war off the US coast during World War II

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general


At a little after two o’clock in the morning on Monday, January 19, 1942, an earthquake-like rumble tossed fifteen-year-old Gibb Gray from his bed. Furniture shook, glass and knickknacks rattled, and books fell from shelves as a thundering roar vibrated through the walls of the houses in Gibb’s Outer Banks village of Avon. Surprised and concerned, Gibb’s father rushed to the windows on the house’s east side and looked toward the ocean.

“There’s a fire out there!” he shouted to his family.

Clearly visible on the horizon, a great orange fireball had erupted. A towering column of black smoke blotted out the stars and further darkened the night sky.

Only seven miles away, a German U-boat had just torpedoed the 337-foot-long U.S. freighter, City of Atlanta, sinking the ship and killing all but three of the 47 men aboard. The same U-boat attacked two more ships just hours later.

Less than six weeks after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the hostilities of the Second World War had arrived on America’s East Coast and North Carolina’s beaches. This was not the first time that German U-boats had come to United States waters. During World War I, three U-boats sank ten ships off the Tar Heel coast in what primarily was considered a demonstration of German naval power. But by 1942, U-boats had become bigger, faster, and more deadly. Their presence in American waters was not intended for “show” but to help win World War II for Germany.

The abbreviated name “U-boat” comes from the German wordunterseeboot, meaning submarine or undersea boat. However, U-boats were not true submarines. They were warships that spent most of their time on the surface. They could submerge only for limited periods — mostly to attack or evade detection by enemy ships, and to avoid bad weather.

U-boats could only travel about sixty miles underwater before having to surface for fresh air. They often attacked ships while on the surface using deck-mounted guns. Typically, about 50 men operated a U-boat. The boats carried fifteen torpedoes, or self-propelled “bombs,” which ranged up to twenty-two feet long and could travel thirty miles per hour. Experts have described German U-boats as among the most effective and seaworthy warships ever designed.

Within hours of the U-boat attack near Avon, debris and oil began washing up on the beaches. This scene seemed to be repeated constantly. For the next six months, along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, at least sixty-five different German U-boats attacked American and British merchant ships carrying vital supplies to the Allies in Europe — cargos of oil, gasoline, raw vegetables and citrus products, lumber and steel, aluminum for aircraft construction, rubber for tires, and cotton for clothing. By July of 1942, 397 ships had been sunk or damaged. More than 5,000 people had been killed.

The greatest concentration of U-boat attacks happened off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where dozens of ships passed daily. So many ships were attacked that, in time, the waters near Cape Hatteras earned a nickname: “Torpedo Junction.” U.S. military and government authorities didn’t want people to worry, so news reports of enemy U-boats near the coast were classified, or held back from the public for national security reasons. For many years, most people had no idea how bad things really were. But families living on the Outer Banks knew—they were practically in the war.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

“We’d hear these explosions most any time of the day or night and it would shake the houses and sometimes crack the walls,” remembered Blanche Jolliff, of Ocracoke village. Even though ships were being torpedoed by enemy U-boats almost every day, just a few miles away, coastal residents had no choice but to live as normally as possible.

“We sort of got used to hearing it,” Gibb Gray said. “The explosions were mostly in the distance, so we weren’t too scared. I remember we were walking to school one day, and the whole ground shook. We looked toward the ocean, just beyond the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, and there was another huge cloud of smoke. That was the oil tanker, Dixie Arrow.”

Some Outer Bankers came closer to the war than they would have preferred. Teenager Charles Stowe, of Hatteras, and his father were headed out to sea aboard their fishing boat one day when they nearly rammed a U-boat, which was rising to the surface directly in front of them. The elder Stowe’s eyesight was not very good. He told his son, who was steering their boat, to keep on going—he thought the vessel ahead was just another fishing boat.

“I said, ‘Dad, that is a German submarine!’ And it sure was,” Stowe recalled. “He finally listened to me, and we turned around and got out of there just in time.”

The war cut back on one favorite summer pastime for Outer Banks young people. “That summer we had to almost give up swimming in the ocean — it was just full of oil, you’d get it all over you,” Mrs. Ormond Fuller recalled of the oil spilled by torpedoed tankers.

Gibb Gray remembered the oil, too: “We’d step in it before we knew it, and we’d be five or six inches deep. We’d have to scrub our feet and legs with rags soaked in kerosene. It’s hard to get off, that oil.” It is estimated that 150 million gallons of oil spilled into the sea and on the beaches along the Outer Banks during 1942.

Some local residents thought Germans might try to sneak ashore. Others suspected strangers of being spies for the enemy.

“We were frightened to death. We locked our doors at night for the first time ever,” said Ocracoke’s Blanche Styron. Calvin O’Neal remembered strangers with unusual accents who stayed at an Ocracoke hotel during the war: “The rumor was they were spies, and the hotel owner’s daughter and I decided to be counterspies, and we tried our best to follow them around, but we never caught them doing anything suspicious.”

At Buxton, Maude White was the village postmistress and a secret coast watcher for the U.S. Navy. She was responsible for observing unusual activities and reporting them to the local Coast Guard. In 1942 one couple with German accents attracted attention by drawing maps and taking notes about the island. White became suspicious, and so did her daughter, who would follow the pair from a distance — riding her beach pony.

After being reported by White, the strangers were apprehended when they crossed Oregon Inlet on the ferry. Records fail to indicate whether or not the strangers really were spies, but White’s daughter became the inspiration for the heroine in author Nell Wise Wechter’s book Taffy of Torpedo Junction.

Slowly but surely, increased patrols by the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, and planes of the Army Air Corps, began to prevent the U-boat attacks. Blimps from a station at Elizabeth City searched for U-boats from high above, while private yachts and sailboats with two-way radios were sent out into the ocean to patrol and harass German warships. The military set up top-secret submarine listening and tracking facilities at places like Ocracoke to detect passing U-boats.

Many people who lived along the coast during World War II remember having to turn off their house lights at night and having to put black tape over their car headlights, so that lights on shore would not help the Germans find their way in the darkness. Even so, the government did not order a general blackout until August 1942. By then, most of the attacks had ended.

On April 14, 1942, the first German U-boat fought by the American navy in U.S. waters was sunk sixteen miles southeast of Nags Head. Within the next couple of months, three more U-boats were sunk along the North Carolina coast: one by a U.S. Army Air Corps bomber, one by a U.S. Coast Guard patrol ship, and one by a U.S. Navy destroyer. North Carolina’s total of four sunken U-boats represents the most of any state.

By that July, the commander of Germany’s U-boats became discouraged. He redirected his remaining warships to the northern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, Germany considered its attacks against the United States a success, even if they failed to win the war. Gerhard Weinberg, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has since called the war zone off the U.S. coast in 1942 “the greatest single defeat ever suffered by American naval power.”

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
The wreck of U-701 rests on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off of the east coast of North Carolina. (Photo: NOAA)

As the years have passed, most of the physical evidence of World War II U-boat encounters off North Carolina’s coast has vanished. Submerged off the state’s beaches are the remains of at least 60 ships and countless unexploded torpedoes, depth charges, and contact mines. Even today, small patches of blackened sand offer reminders of the massive oil spills of 1942. On Ocracoke Island and at Cape Hatteras, cemeteries contain the graves of six British sailors who perished in North Carolina’s waters.

In spite of those stats, most Americans don’t know about the time when war came so close.

Kevin P. Duffus is an author and documentary filmmaker specializing in North Carolina maritime history. He has lectured for the North Carolina Humanities Council on topics that included World War II along the state’s coast.

Intel

A Hollywood director explains what it was like to film soldiers fighting in Afghanistan

The Fighting Season is a six part documentary series that captures what ending a war looks like. The film, which is out now, shows the sacrifices of the men and women who fought for the freedom and security of Afghanistan as America’s longest war drew to an end. Producer Ricky Schroder put himself in harm’s way as an embedded cameramen to deliver the best account possible.


In this edition of “At The Mighty,” Schroder discusses his motivations for filming this series and his experience with the troops in Afghanistan.

Watch:

The Fighting Season is available on DirecTV, iTunes and Amazon.

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Articles

From shoot to BOOM! This is the deadly science behind the RPG

What started as a way for Soviet ground troops to take out German tanks in World War II has since turned into a global weapons phenomenon: The rocket-propelled grenade.


This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

Related: This is how the Sabot round turns enemies into a fine mist

While the original anti-tank technology was meant to have a one-off use, the modern RPG is a reloadable weapon, with a shaped-charge explosive used by militias and official military forces alike.

“The Russians were extremely impressed by the panzerfaust,” said Will Fowler, an explosives expert, in the video below. “It was the basis for their RPG-2 program which went on to the now-famous RPG-7.”

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general
With varying degrees of celebration.

When an RPG is fired, it leaves the barrel at 383 feet per second. An additional rocket fires and deploys stabilizing fins as the shell spins toward a target.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

The RPG’s cone shape forms a jet of explosive energy outward when the shell strikes its target. That’s where the weapons gets its armor-penetrating power.

This pilot earned his dream shot by tweaking a general

The RPG is a simple, cheap, and efficient system that can completely destroy a soft-skinned vehicle and can cause grievous harm to some up-armored ones.

Troops who encounter an RPG round in combat are lucky to survive to tell the tale.

“When I was in Iraq, the RPG was a deadly weapon,” Staff Sgt. Matthew Bertles, a U.S. Army M240 gunner, told the show Weaponology. “An RPG struck my 240, blew me back, destroyed our vehicle, and injured me.”

Watch the history of the RPG in the video below: