The 6 most-secret units in military history - We Are The Mighty
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The 6 most-secret units in military history

Secrecy is one of the best currencies in war, so it’s sometimes best for commanders to keep their best assets hidden from the enemy and the public. While the military has admitted that most of the units on this list existed at some point, a lot of their missions were classified for decades before being disclosed to the public. For the units that are still operating, America still only gets glimpses into their secret activities.


1. Task Force 88/Task Force Black

They may or may not be the same group and they may or may not still be in operation. Task Force Black and Task Force 88 are names floating around the media for the unit that conducted raids against terror organizations in Iraq and Afghanistan during the height of the wars. The unit was commonly described as being a joint U.S.-U.K. force made up of the best that SEAL Team 6, Delta Force, and the British SAS had to offer. Controversy erupted when they were blamed for a cross-border raid into Syria. There is speculation that Task Force Black may be back in operation to destroy ISIS, if it ever stopped.

2. 6493rd Test Squadron/6594th Test Group

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: US Air Force

 

These Air Force units existed from 1958 to 1986 and were tasked with catching “falling stars.” They would fly out of Hawaii and catch film canisters falling from America’s first spy satellites. The satellites, part of the Corona program, orbited the Earth and took photos of Soviet Russia. Then, the satellites would drop their film canisters over the Pacific ocean where these Airmen would try to snatch the canisters out of the air.

The recovery process was surprisingly low-tech. A plane with a large hook beneath its tail would try to catch the canister’s parachute as it fell. When the planes failed to make the grab or the weather was too bad to attempt it, Coast Guard rescue swimmers in the unit would fish the film out of the water. The unit boasted a perfect record with more than 40,000 recoveries in 27 years. When its airmen weren’t snatching film from the air, the unit supported rescue missions near Hawaii. It was credited with 60 saves.

3. Delta Force/Combat Applications Group/Army Compartmented Elements is more well known, but still pretty secret

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Department of Defense

 

Like many of the units on the list, Delta has gone through a few name changes over the years. Formation of an elite counter-terrorism unit had been proposed multiple times in the 1970s and Delta Force is widely believed to have been formed in late 1977. Its operational history got off to a horrible start with the failed Operation Eagle Claw in 1980. Since then, Delta has distinguished itself in combat from the invasion of Panama to the Gulf War to hunting Osama Bin Laden in the Tora Bora Mountains. Since the unit is still operational, many of their missions remain classified.

4. SEAL Team 6/DEVGRU

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eddie Harrison

 

SEAL Team 6 specializes in counter terrorism, special reconnaissance, hostage rescue and close protection missions. You’ve probably heard of them, but many of their missions are still secret. Since 9/11, their budget and responsibilities have expanded to where they are now thought to have over 1,800 members, including some women who serve in intelligence roles. Perhaps most famous for both killing Osama Bin Laden and rescuing Captain Phillips from Somali pirates, it has been conducting combat operations since 1981.

READ MORE: 5 key differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team 6

5. 7781 Army Unit/39th Special Forces Operational Detachment

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Bob Charest

Operating in Berlin from 1956 to 1984, this team of green berets went through a few names during their history. They worked to keep West Berlin safe from communist incursions but also prepared to foment resistance if the city was taken over. Trained in classic spy craft skills, they were equipped with Bond-like gadgets such as cigarette-lighter guns and C-4 filled coal.

Master Sgt. Bob Charest, a retired former member of the unit, wrote for WATM about the unit.

6. The OSS

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: US Office of Strategic Services

The Office of Strategic Services was formed in 1942 with the very broad mission of collecting and analyzing strategic information and conducting “special operations not assigned to other agencies.” Since few agencies had special operators in World War II, this gave the OSS a lot of room to run. Under Col. William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the tiny agency conducted raids, smuggled weapons and spies, supported resistance groups in Axis territory, and collected intelligence. The OSS even employed the first “sea, air, and land” commando in U.S. history.

NOW: The secret Air Force program that his an even more secret program

OR: This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

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7 signs a food may not be as healthy as you think it is

Do you ever feel like no matter how healthy you try to eat, there’s something bad sneaking into all your meals? It can be frustrating figuring out what makes a food healthy or not and how a food will impact your body.

A great way to decide if a food is secretly unhealthy is by looking at all the ingredients. If you think a food is healthy, it may surprise you to see the additives or other annoyances that have been slipped into it. If you’re looking to figure out the truth, here are signs a food is unhealthy, even if it appears not to be.


1. It claims to be “reduced-fat”

You may be more inclined to pick up products that tout that they’re “reduced-fat” or “low-fat” on their packages, but that doesn’t exactly mean it’s healthy.

When producers make low-fat or reduced-fat foods, even if they’re lowering the fat content, they’re likely increasing other aspects to make it taste better, including added sugar.

Take a good hard look at the nutrition label to determine if it’s actually the best option for you.

2. It’s gluten-free.

The 6 most-secret units in military history

Of course, if you have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease, you should absolutely be picking up gluten-free options. But, if you’re just trying to cut out gluten because you think gluten-free options are “healthier” you’re sorely mistaken.

Gluten-free food often contains sugary starches and additives often meant to replicate gluten. Plus, studies suggest that gluten-free foods are not healthier overall, containing more salt and fat than other, similar foods, according to The Washington Post.

3. It claims to be made of whole-grains.

You’ve probably seen a lot of cereals and bread tout that they’re now made with “whole grains” in a claim that they’re now healthier for you. But that isn’t always exactly true.

Because of some loopholes in the definition of “whole grain,” these foods may actually contain all parts of the grain in a fine flour form, something that your body often processes as sugar.

4. It claims that there’s “no sugar added.”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by Charles Haynes)

Although some foods will brag about being “no added sugar,” sometimes that just means there is no sugar in its traditional form. Oftentimes, manufacturers skimp around it by claiming that label but including high-fructose corn syrup or other names for sugar.

While you may only think of syrup as something you’d put on your pancakes, high-fructose corn syrup can be found in most processed foods, according to Healthline. Sure candy may have it, but even foods like deli meat can find it added in. High-fructose corn syrup has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, but more research is needed.

It’s important to know all of the ways that sugar can be labeled and not to just go off the front of the label.

5. It’s labeled “organic sugar.”

Although there are foods that experts say are best to buy organic, if you’re debating on buying something with “organic” sugar versus “regular” sugar, it doesn’t really make a difference.

The chemical compound of “organic” sugar is exactly the same, according to HealthLine, so if you’re looking for a healthier choice, this probably isn’t it.

6. It claims to be baked, not fried.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by Valters Krontals)

To be clear, baking a food yourself will pretty much always be healthier than getting it fried. But when it comes to processed “junk food,” such as potato chips, just because it’s “baked” doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

In fact, US News blogger Yoni Freedhoff, MD, found that a brand of baked chips had only 38 fewer calories than a classic competitor and contained more salt.

7. It touts that it’s “free-range.”

You may think the chickens that laid your “free-range eggs” are running around, uninhibited and therefore healthier. But the US Department of Agriculture’s guidelines about what “free-range” actually means is basically non-existent. It basically just means that the chickens have access to the outside, according to Salon.

Additionally, a study led by food technologist Deana Jones and cited by Time magazine, claims that “free-range” eggs were not found to be any healthier than “normal” eggs, so sounds like this may be better off ignored altogether.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisInsider on Twitter.

Lists

The 7 most effective American war rifles

“This is my rifle; this is my gun. One is for pleasure; the other for fun . . .” As anyone who’s been there knows, a warfighter develops a pretty intimate relationship with his (or her) weapon while in theater. From the Revolutionary War through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these 7 rifles were the ones American troops depended on when the bullets started flying:


1. The Long Rifle

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history

The American Long Rifle took longer to reload than a British musket, but it’s superior accuracy (due to a smaller and harder round) and longer range allowed the patriots to disburse themselves and take out the tightly-grouped Red Coats one-by-one while remaining beyond the enemy’s reach.

2. The Spencer Repeating Rifle

The 6 most-secret units in military history

The Spencer gave the Union Army a significant tactical advantage during the Civil War with a firing rate of 20 rounds per minute compared to 2 to 3 rounds per minute of the Confederate’s muzzle loaders. Ironically the Department of War balked at having troops use the Spencer initially because they thought they’d waste too much ammo, but Christopher Spencer himself demo’d the rifle to President Lincoln and he subsequently ordered its introduction.

3. The Winchester

The 6 most-secret units in military history

“The gun that won the west.” “Winchester” is a general term for a series of rifles, the most successful of which was the 1873 model, which was not used by the U.S. military. The 1895 model was, however, championed by none other than Theodore Roosevelt who was first introduced to the weapon during a big game hunting expedition.

4. The Springfield

The 6 most-secret units in military history

The 1903 model of the Springfield rifle was derived from the version that contributed to the disaster at Little Big Horn because of it’s tendency to jam. The 1903 was a more reliable rifle and found its place with U.S. Army troops in the trenches of France during World War 1.

5. The M1

The 6 most-secret units in military history

Patton called it “the greatest battle implement ever devised,” the M1 Garand was the U.S. military’s first standard issue semi-automatic rifle. The M1’s semiautomatic operation gave American forces a significant advantage in firepower and shot-to-shot recovery time over individual enemy infantrymen during both World War 2 and the Korean War.

6. The M16

The 6 most-secret units in military history

Despite growing pains, mostly associated with jamming, early in it’s service life, the M16 eventually became a trusted rifle across all of the branches of service from the Vietnam War through Desert Storm until the present day. Total worldwide production of M16s has been approximately 8 million, making it the most-produced firearm of its 5.56 mm caliber.

7. The M4

The 6 most-secret units in military history

The weapon of choice for most special operators since 9-11. The M4’s design was based on shortening the barrel length without compromising long-range accuracy, faster firing action, capability of setting a three-shot pattern, and basic versatility for additional equipment (flash suppressors, silencer, grenade launchers, etc.). All factors were geared for close combat and what the Pentagon describes as “fluid tactical situations.” (h/t diffen.com)

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

Lists

The best World War I airplanes

World War One airplanes began as primitive, unarmed artillery spotters that could barely take offensive action – and ended as powerful bombers and sleek modern fighters. Germany, the UK, and France led the way in aircraft development, creating iconic aircraft like the SPAD, Sopwith Camel, and the scourge of allied pilots, the German Fokker.


This was a time when air-to-air combat was quite literally being made up as pilots went along. The first fighter planes were little more than lumbering artillery spotters with an extra man carrying a revolver. Soon, the interrupter gear was invented, giving aircraft the ability to shoot through their propellers. German technology quickly took control of the skies, first in the “Fokker scourge” of 1916, then “Bloody April” 1917. But Allied pilots fought back, and by the end of the war, both sides had thousands of the most sophisticated planes available, and experienced pilots to fly them.

Aircraft technology developed so quickly that fighters would be rolled out in mass quantities, and be obsolete by the time they were actually used. Even so, the war pioneered many of the tactics used in World War 2 aircraft, including heavy bombers escorted by fighters, deep-penetration reconnaissance planes, night fighters and bombers, and innovative technology.

Here are some of the most important, widely-produced, iconic, and effective planes of World War 1. Vote up your favorites or add your own.

The Best World War 1 Airplanes

More from Ranker:

This article originally appeared at Ranker. Copyright 2015. Like Ranker on Facebook.

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10 symbols of NASA’s amazing legacy

From a one-man capsule to the space shuttle, here are ten facts about America’s space program that will remind you of NASA’s amazing history and the legacy of dedication and service on the part of all who’ve worked there over the years.


The 6 most-secret units in military history
Wally Schirra was the only one of the Mercury 7 astronauts to fly in all three of NASA’s ‘Moon Shot’ programs (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo). Alan Shepard flew in Mercury and Apollo, but not in Gemini. Gus Grissom was involved in all three projects, flying in Mercury and Gemini, but he was killed during a pre-flight simulation in his Apollo 1 capsule, so he never actually flew in the Apollo program. (NASA.gov)

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Gus Grissom was the only Mercury astronaut to give his capsule a name: Molly Brown. (NASA.gov)

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Alan Shepard used a modified six iron during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. NASA planners were unaware that he’d carried the device with him on the mission. Shepard later presented the folding club to comedian Bob Hope, an avid golfer beloved by the military. (NASA.gov)

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton are the only First Couple to watch a shuttle launch in person. They watched John Glenn’s return to Space on STS-95 on October 29, 1998 from the Kennedy Space Center. President Obama had planned to watch the shuttle Endeavour lift off on its final mission, STS-134, on April 29, 2011, but that launch was delayed. (NASA.gov)

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Astronaut Kathy Sullivan was first U.S. woman to perform a spacewalk, accomplishing the feat during the shuttle Challenger’s mission (STS-41G) in October of 1984. (NASA.gov)

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Norm Thagard became the first American astronaut to ride aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket when he joined two Russian cosmonauts in blasting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan on March 14, 1995. The Mir 18 mission lasted 115 days. (NASA.gov)

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
On Feb. 9, 1995, Bernard Harris, payload specialist aboard STS-63, became the first African-American to walk in space. This photo shows Harris and mission specialist C. Michael Foale in the airlock chamber just before exiting the shuttle. (NASA.gov)

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
The shuttle Columbia flew 28 flights (including the first shuttle mission), spent 300.74 days in space, completed 4,808 orbits, and flew a total of 125,204,911 miles. The shuttle met a tragic end in 2003 when it was destroyed on re-entry, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Pushing out the boundaries of space exploration has taken a human toll. Eighteen NASA astronauts have died in the course of carrying out the mission: three on Apollo 1, one on X-15-3, seven on Challenger, and seven on Columbia.

 

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5 times the Trump administration actually was tough on Russia

Despite President Donald Trump’s national-security advisers’ note reminding him “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” Russian President Vladimir Putin on his election victory during their call on March 20, 2018, Trump did anyway.


When asked whether Trump thought Putin’s election victory was free and fair during a press briefing that day, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders demurred.

“We’re focused on our elections,” she said. “We don’t get to dictate how other countries operate.”

During another press briefing in February 2018, Sanders argued Trump had been “tougher on Russia in the first year than [former President Barack] Obama was in eight years combined.”

Also read: Trump’s strategy to prepare the US for power war with Russia and China

This argument has become a frequent line of defense Trump officials have used when pressed about the administration’s complicated relationship with Russia.

Trump, whose response to the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election has been lukewarm at best, is often perceived as being hesitant to confront the Kremlin’s aggression.

But the Trump administration has actually taken some concrete actions against Russia. Here are five examples:

1. Sanctions

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo by Russian Presidential Press and Information Office)

On March 15, the Trump administration announced new sanctions on Russia for its attempts to interfere in the 2016 US election.

The sanctions were scheduled to be implemented early 2018, but Trump backed down, arguing that the sanctions bill he signed August 2017 was already working as a deterrent against Russia.

Related: The difference between Russian and Chinese influence campaigns

Trump originally signed the sanctions bill — officially called the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act — August 2017, albeit begrudgingly.

The sanctions bill also imposes a wide range of sanctions on North Korea and Iran.

2. Closing of diplomatic facilities

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Consulate-General of Russia in San Francisco. (Photo by Eugene Zelenko)

After Congress approved Russia-related sanctions summer 2017, Russia expelled 755 American diplomats from the country.

In response, the Trump administration ordered Russia to close three of its diplomatic facilities in the US, including its consulate in San Francisco and two annexes in Washington, DC and New York City.

3. Arms sale to Ukraine

The 6 most-secret units in military history

In December 2017, Trump announced his support for the sale of lethal munitions to the Ukrainian government in its fight against Russian-backed separatists in the country’s Donbas region, a move that angered Russia, which has been engaged in a hybrid war in the region for the past four years.

The State Department officially approved $47 million weapons sale in early March 2018. It included Javelin launchers and anti-tank missiles.

4. Condemnation of nerve agent attack in the UK

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Sergei Skripal in 2004, in footage obtained by Sky News.

On March 4, 2018, Russian dissident Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, suffered from a nerve agent attack. The father and daughter are living in London.

The US, the UK, France, and Germany all blamed Russia for the attack.

Although Trump initially failed to deliver a forceful condemnation of Russia for the attack, other officials in his administration picked up the slack.

“Over the past four years, Russia has engaged in a campaign of coercion and violence, targeting anyone opposed to its attempted annexation,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

“We stand behind those courageous individuals who continue to speak out about these abuses and we call on Russia to cease its attempts to quell fundamental freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and religion or belief.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the attack “clearly came from Russia” and US Ambassador to the US Nikki Haley said the US stood in “absolute solidarity” with the UK after the attack.

A full day after the UK blamed Russia, Trump told reporters that “as soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be.” Referring to the UK’s findings, he added, “It sounds to me like they believe it was Russia, and I would certainly take that finding as fact.”

More: Trump’s leaked nuclear report suggests Russia has a doomsday device

National-security experts were baffled and alarmed by Trump’s delayed reaction to the chemical attack.

Trump then joined a statement with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreeing that there was “no plausible alternative explanation” than that Russia was to blame for the attack.

5. Trump officials repeatedly criticize Moscow

The 6 most-secret units in military history
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley have been particularly critical of Russia.

On March 7, 2018, Nauert condemned Russia in a tweet, saying that it ignored a UN ceasefire agreement in Syria by bombing civilians in Damascus and Eastern Ghouta.

Her criticism elicited a direct response from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), which told Nauert to “calm down.”

“Your propaganda machine is out of control — you’re spamming all of us,” the MFA added.

In January 2018, Nauert condemned Russia for supporting separatists in the country of Georgia. Trump recently promoted her to undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.

Haley has also been critical of Russia over a variety of issues, including Moscow’s support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and the Kremlin’s aggression in Ukraine.

Articles

8 genius military uses for civilian products

The Pentagon is using more equipment and technology from the civilian sector, but service members have been finding ingenious uses for civilian items for a long time.


1. Detecting tripwires: Silly String

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Ellen Keller

Tripwires have been a problem for centuries, but a modern toy has provided a solution. Silly String can be sprayed through open doors, windows, and other choke points to check for booby traps before soldiers and Marines move through.

2. Stopping bleeding: tampons

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tampons are known for stopping a certain kind of bleeding, but deployed service members realized that small tampons can plug a bullet hole, quickly controlling bleeding while the injured awaits a medical evacuation.

3. Marking bombs: flour and ear plugs

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Once a mine or IED is found, its location has to be communicated to others. Some units will draw on the ground with flour from a squeeze bottle, making symbols that say the type of danger and its location.

Flour doesn’t work well in wet environments or anywhere the ground is a light beige or dirty white. There, disposable ear plugs can work better. Mine clearance will find a mine and drop a brightly colored ear plug on it. Soldiers following behind them know to watch out for these markers.

4. Cleaning weapons: baby wipes, cotton swabs, and dental scrapers

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Shahram Sharif

Weapons maintenance is important, but good materials can be hard to find. Still, some of the best cleaning can be done with baby wipes, cotton swabs, and dental scrapers. They’re used to wipe down surfaces, get to hard to reach areas, and remove burnt on carbon, respectively.

5. Sewing: dental floss

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Stilfehler

When uniforms rip, soldiers away from a base have to personally fix them. Dental floss is strong, easy to work with, and available to troops at the front. To make a sewing kit, troops throw floss in a cleaned out mint or dip can along with a couple of sewing needles.

6. Waterproofing: Soap dish or condoms

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, josef325

A service member’s poncho should keep their gear dry, but even recruits in boot camp know better. Wallets, maps, and notebooks are better protected in a soap travel dish. When a dish isn’t available or an awkward items needs protected, condoms can be unrolled over them. This technique works well for waterproofing boots before crossing a stream.

7. Cleaning radio contacts: pencil eraser

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Evan-Amos

This one is so effective, it’s become official Army doctrine. The contact points where microphones or antennas meet with a radio can become tarnished and dirty. Erasers can get these spotless quickly, something which has been incorporated into Army manuals such as Field Manual 44-48, “Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for the Sensor Platoon.”

8. Making terrain models: marking chalk

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: US Army Cheryl Rodewig

Marking chalk is that chalk contractors use with string to mark exactly where a wire should run or a cut should be made. The chalk doesn’t come attached to the string though, it comes in 5-gallon jugs. The military, which has to build sand tables that represent the terrain in their area of operations, realized they could use different colors of this chalk to make different colored sand. Water can be represented with blue, vegetation with green, and hazardous areas with red or yellow.

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If a nuclear bomb explodes, the government will probably use these scripts to calm you down

The US government prepares for all sorts of threats, ranging from biowarfare and chemical weapons to volcanoes and wildfires.

But none match the specter of a nuclear explosion.

A small nuclear weapon on the ground can create a stadium-size fireball, unleash a city-crippling blastwave, and sprinkle radioactive fallout hundreds of miles away.


The good news is that the Cold War is over and a limited nuclear strike or a terrorist attack can be survivable (a direct hit notwithstanding). The bad news: A new arms race is likely underway — and one that may add small, portable nuclear weapons to the global stockpile. Lawmakers and experts fear such “tactical” or battlefield-ready devices (and their parts) may be easier for terrorists to obtain via theft or sale.

“Terrorist use of an actual nuclear bomb is a low-probability event — but the immensity of the consequences means that even a small chance is enough to justify an intensive effort to reduce the risk,” the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said in a September 2017 article, which outlines what might happen after terrorists detonate a crude device that yields a 10-kiloton, near-Hiroshima-size explosion in a city.

A nuclear terrorist attack of this magnitude is one of 15 major disaster scenarios planned for by FEMA and other US agencies. (The same scenario also includes a dirty bomb explosion, though such an event would be dramatically less harmful.)

As part of the planning effort, the Environmental Protection Agency maintains a series of manuals about how state and local governments should respond. A companion document anticipates 99 likely questions during a radiation emergency — and scripted messages that officials can copy or adapt.

“Ideally, these messages never will be needed,” the EPA says in its messaging document. “[N]evertheless, we have a responsibility to be prepared to empower the public by effectively communicating how people can protect themselves and their families in the event of a radiological or nuclear emergency.”

Here are a handful of the questions the EPA anticipates in the event of a nuclear emergency, parts of statements you might hear or see in response, and why officials would say them.

“What will happen to people in the affected neighborhoods?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by Alexandr Trubetskoy)

What they’ll say: As appropriate: Lives have been lost, people have been injured, and homes and businesses have been destroyed. All levels of government are coordinating their efforts to do everything possible to help the people affected by this emergency. As lifesaving activities continue, follow the instructions from emergency responders… The instructions are based on the best information we have right now; the instructions will be updated as more information becomes available.”

Why: The worst thing to do in an emergency is panic, make rash decisions, and endanger your life and the lives of others. However, it’s also incumbent on officials to be truthful. The first messages will aim to keep people calm yet informed and as safe as possible.

“What is radioactive material?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history

What they’ll say: “Radioactive material is a substance that gives off radiation in the form of energy waves or energized particles.

Why: Nuclear bombs split countless atoms in an instant to unleash a terrifying amount of energy. About 15% of the energy is nuclear radiation, and too much exposure can damage the body’s cells and healing ability, leading to a life-threatening condition called acute radiation sickness.

Without advanced warning, people can do little about the energy waves, also called gamma radiation, which are invisible and travel at light-speed. But the energized particles — including radioactive fission products or fallout — travel more slowly, giving people time to seek shelter. The particles can also be washed off.

“Where is the radioactive material located?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
The dangerous fallout zone (dark purple) shrinks quickly, while the much less dangerous hot zone (faint purple) grows for about 24 hours before shrinking back.
(Brooke Buddemeier / Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

What they’ll say: “Radiation and environmental health experts are checking air, water and ground conditions in and around the release site to locate the areas with radioactive contamination. Stay tuned to radio or television, or visit [INSERT AGENCY WEBSITE HERE] for the latest information.”

Why: If a nuclear bomb goes off near the ground (which is likely in a terrorist attack), the explosion will suck up debris, irradiate it, and spread it around as fallout. Some of this material rapidly decays, emitting gamma and other forms of radiation in the process.

Fallout is most concentrated near a blast site. However, hot air from a nuclear fireball pushes finer-grade material high into the atmosphere, where strong winds can blow it more than 100 miles away. It may take days for radiation workers to track where all of it went, to what extent, and which food and water supplies it possibly contaminated.

“If I am in a car or truck, what steps should I take to protect myself and my loved ones?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Flickr photo by joiseyshowaa)

What they’ll say: “Cars and trucks provide little protection from radiation… Shut the windows and vents… Cover your nose and mouth… Go inside and stay inside… Tune in.”

Why: Movies portray cars as protective cocoons and rapid escape vessels in emergencies. But after a nuclear blast they’ll likely become death traps.

Vehicles don’t have nearly enough metal to meaningfully absorb radiation. You also won’t be able to outrun the danger, as fallout can travel at speeds of 100 mph in the upper atmosphere. Roads will also be choked with panicked drivers, accidents, blocked streets, and debris.

If you’re already in a car, find a safe place to pull it off the road, get out, and make a dash for the nearest building. Tuning in with a radio will help you listen for instructions on how, when, and where to evacuate a dangerous area to a shelter.

“If I am outside, what steps should I take to protect myself and my loved ones?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
The protection factor that various buildings, and locations within them, offer from the radioactive fallout of a nuclear blast. The higher the number, the greater the protection.
(Brooke Buddemeier / Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

What they’ll say: “Cover your nose and mouth… Don’t touch objects or debris related to the release… Go inside and stay inside.”

Why: Being outside is a bad place to be, since fallout sprinkles everywhere and can stick to your skin and clothes. Less fallout gets indoors, and materials like concrete, metal, and soil (e.g. in a basement) can block a lot of radiation from the stuff that sprinkles outside.

“If I am inside a building, what steps should I take to protect myself and my loved ones?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by Brad Greenlee)

What they’ll say: “Stay inside. If the walls and windows of the building are not broken, stay in the building and don’t leave… If the walls and windows of the building are broken, go to an inside room and don’t leave. If the building has been heavily damaged, quickly go into another building… Close doors and windows.”

Why: The blastwave from a nuclear explosion can shatter windows for miles — and fallout can blow around, hence the need to contain yourself away from exposed areas. Be prepared to hunker down for up to 48 hours, as that’s roughly how long it takes the most dangerous fallout radiation to dissipate.

“Is the air safe to breathe?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by CLAUDIA DEA)

What they’ll say: “Federal, state and local partners are monitoring [AREA] to determine the location and levels of radioactive material on the ground and in the air.”

Why: There could be radioactive smoke and fallout in the air, but not breathing isn’t really an option. To reduce your exposure risk, stay inside, shut the doors, and close the windows. Turn off fans and air conditioners, or set them on recirculate. If you’re outdoors, cover your nose and mouth and get inside a building as soon as possible.

“If people are told by health and emergency management officials to self-decontaminate, what does this mean?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by Silke Remmery)

What they’ll say: “[T]ake several easy steps to remove any radioactive material that might have fallen onto clothes, skin or hair…. Remove your outer clothes… Wash off… If you cannot shower, use a wet wipe or clean wet cloth to wipe any skin that was not covered by clothing… Gently blow your nose and gently wipe your eyelids, eyelashes and ears with a clean wet cloth… Put on clean clothes… Tune in.”

Why: Fallout continues to expose you to harmful radiation if it’s stuck to you or inside your body. Anything that might be contaminated should be slipped into plastic bags, sealed off, and chucked outside (or as far away as possible from people). Showering with a lot of soap can remove most fallout, but avoid conditioner — it can cause fallout to stick to your hair.

“What should I do about my children and family? Should I leave to find my children?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by Ann Wuyts)

What they’ll say: “If your children or family are with you, stay together. If your children or family are in another home or building, they should stay there until you are told it is safe to travel. You also should stay where you are… Schools have emergency plans and shelters.”

Why: Every parent’s instinct will scream to reconnect with his or her family, but patience is the best move. If you go outside, you’ll risk exposure to radioactive fallout and other dangers, as the route may be perilous or even impassable. Most importantly, it’s hard to help your family after the dust settles if you are injured — or worse.

“Is it safe for me to let someone who might have been affected by the radiological incident into my home?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by Matteo Catanese)

What they’ll say: “If someone has radioactive dust on their clothes or body, a few simple steps can clean up or decontaminate the person.”

Why: You can offer safe shelter to people caught outside — just have them decontaminate themselves as quickly as possible. This will protect everyone by keeping radioactive fallout at bay. Have them remove and bag up their outer clothes, then take a shower with lots of soap and shampoo (or perform a thorough wipe-down).

“How do I decontaminate my pet?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by latteda)

What they’ll say: “If you are instructed to stay inside, your pets should be inside too. If your pet was outside at the time of the incident, the pet can be brought inside and decontaminated.”

Why: Pets, like people, can be contaminated by fallout and bring it indoors. This can endanger them and you. To decontaminate your pet, cover your nose and mouth, put on gloves, and then wash your pet in a shower or bath with a lot of shampoo or soap and water. Rinse your pet thoroughly and take a shower yourself afterward.

“When should I take potassium iodide?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by Falk Lademann)

What they’ll say: “Never take potassium iodide (KI) or give it to others unless you have been specifically advised to do so by public health officials, emergency management officials, or your doctor.”

Why: KI pills are among the last things people need immediately after a nuclear blast and aren’t worth a mad dash to a pharmacy during the disaster, according to Brooke Buddemeier, a health physicist and radiation expert at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“Most people seem to think of the potassium iodide, or KI, pills as some type of anti-radiation drug. They are not,” Buddemeier previously told Business Insider. “They are for preventing the uptake of radioiodine, which is one radionuclide out of thousands of radionuclides that are out there.”

Radioiodine makes up about 0.2% of overall exposure. The pills are useful for longer-terms concerns about contaminated water and food supplies, and blocking radioiodinefrom concentrating in people’s metabolism-regulating thyroid glands.

“Is taking large amounts of iodized salt a good substitute for potassium iodide?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov)

What they’ll say: “No. Iodized salt will not protect your thyroid.”

Why: Table salt, or sodium chloride, has some iodine added in to prevent deficiencies that lead to conditions like goiter. But the amount of iodine in table salt is trivial, and eating even a tablespoon or so is a great way to throw up any useful iodine.

“Is the water safe to use?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by Daniel Orth)

What they’ll say: “[U]ntil we have drinking water test results, only bottled water is certain to be free of contamination. Tap or well water can be used for cleaning yourself and your food… Boiling tap water does not get rid of radioactive material.”

Why: Radioactive fallout can dissolve into or remain suspended in water, just like salt or dust. That’s not good, since radioactive particles can do more harm inside of your body than outside of it. Bottled water gets around this problem — though you do need to wipe containers down in case they’ve been dusted with fallout.

“Is the food safe to eat?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history

What they’ll say: “Food in sealed containers (cans, bottles, boxes, etc.) and any unspoiled food in your refrigerator or freezer is safe to eat… Don’t eat food that was outdoors from [TIME, DATE] in [AREA].”

Why: Food that isn’t contained might have radioactive fallout in it. You’ll need to wipe down cans, cookware, utensils, and anything else that might touch what goes into your mouth.

“Can people eat food from their gardens or locally-caught fish and game?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(photo by Jennifer C.)

What they’ll say: People in [AREA] are instructed not to eat [FOOD FROM THEIR GARDENS, LOCAL FISH, LOCAL WILDLIFE].”

Why: Anything that’s outside — fruit, vegetables, and animals included — may have radioactive fallout particles on or in them after a nearby nuclear blast. Until the scope of contamination is known, food from outdoor sources should be considered potentially hazardous. Avoid food that could be been exposed to fallout. If that’s not possible, wash it to try to rinse off as much contamination as possible.

“I am pregnant. Is my baby in danger?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by Anna Maria Liljestrand)

What they’ll say: “[M]ost radiation releases will not expose the fetus to levels high enough to cause harmful health effects or birth defects… Once dose levels to the expectant mother and fetus have been determined, your physician can consult with other medical and radiation professionals to identify potential risks (if any) and provide appropriate counseling.”

Why: There are few things more terrifying for an expectant parent than thinking something could be wrong with the baby, but a fetus is somewhat protected from radiation by the uterus and placenta, according to the CDC.

A mother could still inhale or ingest radioactive fallout, though, so doctors will need to check the mother’s abdomen to figure out a fetus’s exposure. Once a dose is determined, it’s possible to see if it’s enough to cause any health effects, including birth defects.

“Is it safe to breastfeed?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo by Maessive)

What they’ll say: “The nutritional and hydration benefits from breastfeeding far outweigh any risk from radiation.”

Why: Fallout is again the main concern here: What goes into a mother can end up in her breast milk. Officials may encourage families to temporarily switch to formula and pump-and-dump milk (to keep production going during the emergency). It’s also a good idea to wipe down formula bottles and pumping equipment to minimize fallout contamination. But if no formula is available, depriving a baby of sustenance is the worst option.

“I am seeing a lot of information and instructions on Internet blogs about what to do. Should I follow that advice?”

The 6 most-secret units in military history

What they’ll say: Check official sources first. You can find the latest information at [INSERT WEBSITE HERE].Blogs, social media and the Internet in general can provide useful information, but only if the source is known and trustworthy.”

Why: Misinformation spreads rapidly in the aftermath of disasters, and some people may intentionally distribute rumors or false information. It’s best to stick to official websites, hotlines, TV, and radio broadcasts, and use multiple sources to verify information you’re unsure about.

“How can the public help?’

The 6 most-secret units in military history

What they’ll say: “Don’t abandon your car… Don’t go near the release site… Use text messaging… Don’t go to the hospital, police stations or fire stations unless you have a medical emergency… Stay tuned…”

Why: In the aftermath of a nuclear disaster, the most helpful thing most people can do is to stay out of the way. This helps first responders get to people that need help.

Cars in the middle of the road slow down emergency vehicles, and going to the release or blast site is extremely perilous, at best. Relying on text messages helps keep phone lines from overloading (and open to 911 calls), and limiting hospital visits to serious injuries or medical conditions helps free up resources for those who need the most aid.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

25 photos showing why The Warrior Games is the world’s most inspiring competition

Since 2010, The Warrior Games has allowed wounded warriors from each military branch to compete in Olympic style games each year. This year’s games are being held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. from June 19-28. By utilizing the therapeutic power of sports, the games enable wounded, ill, and injured service members to showcase their athletic abilities.


Here are 25 photos that show why this event is one of the most inspiring in the world.

1. The Warrior Games are attended by senior government and military leadership such as former Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta (center) and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Army Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade

2. There is an elaborate opening ceremony complete with the lighting of the cauldron to mark the beginning of the games.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Heather Kelly

3. Warrior athletes make up 6 teams including Army …

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: U.S. Army

4. Air Force,

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: U.S. Air Force

5. Marine Corps,

The 6 most-secret units in military history

6. Navy / Coast Guard,

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Katherine Hofman

7. Special Operations Command (SOCOM),

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Devon Suits

8. And British Armed Forces.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jonathan K. Reitzel

9. The crowd is packed with family, friends, and caregivers of the competitors.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Marine Corps Cpl. Jonathan K. Reitzel

10. You are literally watching the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded warriors taking place.

The 6 most-secret units in military history

11. It’s also chance to see the long standing rivalry between military services.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Marine Corps

12. Events include archery …

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Carson Gramley

13. Wheelchair Basketball,

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault

14. And Cycling.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: US Army

15. Then there are Field events such as seated shot put, standing shot put, seated discus, and standing discus.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Justyn M. Freeman

16. There’s track and field …

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Jennifer Spradlin

17. Shooting,

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Navy Lt. Michael Fallon

18. Sitting Volleyball,

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: U.S. Marine Corps

19. Swimming,

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kaily Brown

20. And Wheelchair Rugby.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Joshua Sheppard

21. There’s even exhibition games that dignitaries and Olympic champions will play in, like Prince Harry of Wales and 3 time Olympic gold medalist Misty May Treanor.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Tyler Main

22. Beautiful medals are awarded to competitors.

The 6 most-secret units in military history

23. Individual competitors can rack up medals.

The 6 most-secret units in military history

24. And the team with the overall best performance is awarded the ‘Chairman’s Cup.’

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp

25. No matter what the result, there is a powerful spirit of camaraderie.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Justyn M. Freeman

To learn more about the games, visit the Warrior Games website here.

Now: Everyone should see these powerful images of wounded vets

OR: Here’s How A Combat Wounded Veteran Got His Dream Shot At College Football

Articles

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history

1. The Green Beret founder of SERE training used a math problem to trick the Viet Cong.

The 6 most-secret units in military history


In the grand scheme of things, the Vietnam War tends to get the short end of the stick when it comes to great stories of war — maybe it’s too recent or painful an event to be remembered with the nostalgia associated with WWII.

Regardless, the story of James Nicholas “Nick” Rowe is one that deserves a spot in the limelight, and might be one you haven’t heard before. Not only was Rowe a Green Beret during Vietnam, he would also create the Army SERE course, a grueling training course detailing methods of “survival, evasion, resistance, and escape” when captured by the enemy. One of the training’s more notorious tasks is learning how to drink snake blood to keep up your calorie intake, so it’s safe to say Rowe was a pretty hardcore guy.

The 6 most-secret units in military history

But even the best of the best can get caught by surprise. While on a mission supporting South Vietnamese irregulars against the Viet Cong, Rowe and his fellow Green Berets walked into an ambush. The men fought valiantly, but after exchanging fire they were overpowered and taken as prisoners. When they reached the POW camp they were separated and locked in cages, entering a living hell that they would endure for the next five years.

It only got worse for Rowe. The Viet Cong knew he was the leader of his unit, and suspected he had information. They were right. Rowe served as the captured unit’s intelligence officer, and possessed exactly the kind of information the Viet Cong desperately needed. As a result, Rowe had to endure near-constant torture, on top of the already deplorable conditions of the prison. At one point Rowe confessed his “true” position, claiming he was just an engineer, but the VC weren’t going to let him off easy.

They cut the torture to give Rowe engineering problems to solve. Amazingly, despite the fact that he was starving, living in a cage and was not an engineer, he completed it correctly. His torturers were satisfied, and Rowe thought he could rest easy thanks to West Point’s mandatory engineering courses.

He was wrong. Around the same time, a group of American peace activists were on a mission to visit American officers in Vietnamese prisoner of war camps. The goal of the excursion was a little fuzzy, but they essentially wanted to prove that the North Vietnamese’s prison methods were above board. Rowe’s name was on their list of officers to visit, along with the fact that he was a Special Forces intelligence officer.

The 6 most-secret units in military history

When the Viet Cong discovered the lie, they forced Rowe to stand naked in a swamp for days on end, leaving him ravaged by mosquitos and dizzy with lack of food or water. They were fed up with this phony engineer and his multiple escape attempts, and decided enough was enough. They gave Rowe an execution date, eager to rid themselves of his antics.

When the day finally came, Rowe was led far away from the camp, when suddenly a group of American helicopters thundered overhead, rustling the jungle trees and giving Rowe the split second of time he needed to break free, fend off his captors and sprint after the helicopters. Amazingly, one of the choppers noticed Rowe waving like a maniac in a clearing, and was able to rescue him from his scheduled death.

2. The British soldier who escaped The Gestapo’s “unescapable” castle

The 6 most-secret units in military history

Escaping a prisoner of war camp is no easy feat, and many who have made it to freedom recount plotting their escape plans for months, even years, to execute it right on the first try. This, apparently, was not Airey Neave’s style. Instead of biding his time, the British soldier escaped his WWII POW camps whenever he could, undeterred by failed attempts.

Finally, when he and his friend were caught in Poland after escaping German POW camp Stalag XX-A, he was collected by the Gestapo, who sent him to Oflag IV-C, AKA the castle of Colditz, AKA the last stop for all troublemaking POWs.

The 6 most-secret units in military history

It may look like a summer home fit for the Von Trapp family, but don’t be fooled, this place was no joke. If you’re doubtful you can read up on some accounts of the “escape proof” castle here.

The castle’s prisoners weren’t as confident in its “inescapable” qualities, and instead just came up with ridiculously complex plans of escape.

The 6 most-secret units in military history

Failed attempts included the construction of a small wooden glider, a network of underground tunnels, and prisoners sewing themselves into mattresses to be smuggled out with the laundry. Tempting as these flashy failures were, Neave decided to take a more theatrical approach to his escape.

After he secretly acquired pieces of a Polish army uniform, he painted the shirt and cap green to resemble a German officer’s ensemble. Then he put on his new duds and strolled out of the prison like a Nazi on his way to Sunday dinner with his girl. What he didn’t anticipate, however, was how reflective the paint would be; once outside, he lit up like a Christmas tree under the guard’s searchlight passed over him. It didn’t end well.

But Neave still thought the idea was pretty awesome, and pulled the stunt a second time a few months later, with an updated “uniform” of cardboard, cloth, and more Nazi-green. He also had a partner in crime this time, another prisoner named Anthony Luteyn, who was also sporting a mock German getup.

During an all-inmate stage production that the prison sponsored and put on, Neave and Lutyen quietly slipped off stage, crawled underneath the floorboards that held the dancing inmates and right above the guard’s headquarters.

From there the pair dropped into the room from the ceiling and acted natural, strolling about and exchanging pleasantries in German as if they were simply visiting officers. Once they had ensured no one was suspicious, they calmly made their exit. Once outside of the prison, they threw away the homemade German uniforms and pretended to be two Dutch workers on their way to Ulm from Leipzeg, with (fake) papers to prove it. Unfortunately, the phony documents ended up getting the two stopped by German police, but they bought the disguises and sent them to the foreign aid office, believing they were just confused immigrants.

Despite this and other close calls, Neave and Lutven continued their journey — all on foot — until they made it to Switzerland and were finally free. Neaves would later work to ensure there were quality escape lines for other POWS in Europe, and would also serve on the Nuremberg Trials.

3. The three-prong tunnel system that led 3 POWs to safety

The 6 most-secret units in military history

While the above escapists have steered clear of the old tunnel-digging prison cliche, it’s still an effective method. In fact, U.S. airmen Roger Bushell took the wartime tradition a step further by constructing a system of three tunnels in a German Air Force POW camp at the height of WWII. The tunnels, nicknamed “Tom”, “Dick”, and “Harry,” were each 30 feet deep. This way, Bushell hoped, they wouldn’t be detected by the camp’s perimeter microphones. Each tunnel was also only about two feet wide, though there were larger sections that contained an air pump and a space full of digging supplies. Pieces of wood were used to ensure the stability of the tunnel walls.

Electric lighting was also installed and attached to the prison’s electric grid, allowing the diggers to work and travel by lamplight 10 yards under the ground’s surface. The operation even advanced far enough to incorporate a rail car system into their tunnel network, which was used to carry tons and tons of building materials back and forth during the 5-month construction period.

Just as the “Harry” tunnel was completed in 1944, the American officers who had toiled over the escape route were moved to a new camp. The rest of the prisoners attempted an escape about a week later on March 24, but they had unfortunately miscalculated where their tunnels would end. Initially believing the secret tunnel would dump them inside a forest, they emerged to realize that they were short of the tree line and completely exposed. Still, over 70 men crawled through the dark, dank tunnels to the other side, rushing to the trees once they surfaced. Tragically, on March 25th, a German guard spotted the 77th man crawling out of the tunnel, leading to the capture of 73 of the men, and later the execution of 50 of them. Only three would survive and make it to freedom, but the escape had gone down as one of the most elaborate in history.

4. Bill Goldfinch and Jack Best’s plan to fly the Colditz coop

The 6 most-secret units in military history

You didn’t really think we were going to just breeze by that wooden glider story, did you? There have been plenty of wacky escape methods, but none as bold or sophisticated as literally building yourself a two-man wooden plane to peace out in.

At least, this was the plan. Jack Best and Bill Goldfinch were similar to Neave in their can-do, slightly certifiable approach to escape. The men were pilots, and decided that the best way to bust out of the German castle was to do what they do best: fly. Or, more accurately in this case, glide. The Colditz castle was built atop a large cliff, perfect for launching a secret and probably highly unstable aircraft off of.

Goldfinch and Best began building the glider’s skeleton in the attic above the prison chapel, figuring the height would give it enough time to glide across the Mulde river, which was situated about 200 feet below the building. To keep the Germans from walking in on the construction, the pair built a false wall out of old pieces of wood, the same stuff they constructed the glider out of. The plane was mostly made up out of bed slats and floor boards, but the men used whatever material they could get their hands on that they thought the Germans wouldn’t miss. Control wires were going to be created from electrical wiring that was found in quieter sections of the castle.

Though the operation was deemed moot before it could ever be carried out (the Allies released the prisoners before it could be flown), we felt this almost-escape deserved some recognition because by many accounts, it would have worked. In 2000, a replica of the Colditz glider was constructed for a documentary entitled “Escape from Colditz”, and was actually flown successfully at RAF Odiham. It gets even cooler, though. Best and Goldfinch were able to watch the whole thing go down, and witness their “escape” firsthand.

NOW: 4 military disguises that were just crazy enough to actually work

Lists

7 Movies Every Sailor Needs To Watch

There are movies that fizzle, and then there are movies that last for generations.


At any given moment on any given ship, one of these movies is guaranteed to be on rotation. They’re not only relatable, but timeless too. For example, “Cinderella Liberty” was made in the 1970s and yet a variation of the plot still happens to sailors in today’s Navy. And, when sailors watch “Master and Commander” they realize that the Navy hasn’t changed much since the 1800s.

Then, there are movies like “Top Gun” and “Officer and a Gentleman” that motivated a generation of sailors to join the service. “Top Gun” debuted in 1986 and until this day you can hear the echoes of aviators throughout the ship referring to each other as Maverick and Goose (our resident ex-naval aviator Ward Carroll disagrees. We’re guessing he’s a huge “Behind Enemy Lines” fan instead).

Another reason for the longevity of these films is because sailors relate to different characters at different stages of their careers. Early on they see themselves as Mayo in “Officer and a Gentleman” and years later they find themselves relating to Lt. Cmdr. Ron Hunter in “Crimson Tide.”

Here’s our list of movies movies every sailor needs to watch. Got any more? Add them to the comments.

1. The Sand Pebbles — 1966

This Navy engineer is transferred to a new ship in a foreign land where tensions are high with the United States. He doesn’t get along with the shipmates or the skipper and to make matters worse, he gets implicated in an incident that could cause full out war. Every sailor will relate to Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Holman played by Steve McQueen at some point in their career.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: 20th Century Fox

2. The Hunt For Red October — 1990

Set during the Cold War, the USSR’s best submarine captain and crew plan to defect to the United States without triggering full out war. After watching this movie, you’ll realize that the USSR Navy isn’t very different from the U.S. Navy.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Paramount Pictures

3. Top Gun — 1986

Dogfights, explosions, rivalries, and love, this movie was the beginning for a lot of aviators. A look at Maverick and you’ll understand what a lot of Navy pilots think of themselves.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Here’s What ‘Top Gun’ Would Look Like In 2014.

4. Crimson Tide — 1995

On one hand you have a trigger-happy skipper ready to unleash his nukes onto Russia and on the other you have a subordinate staging a mutiny. It’s a sailor’s fantasy played out.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Hollywood Pictures

5. Officer and a Gentleman — 1982

This story plays out every day in the military. It’s about a guy wanting to turn his life around by joining the Navy. Sound familiar?

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Paramount Pictures

6. Master and Commander — 2003

Although this film is recent compared to the others, it made our list for its timelessness. With phrases such as port side, starboard, head, and others, sailors quickly realize that if they were to be transported to the 1800s that they would still make good sailors.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

7. Cinderella Liberty — 1973

A quick read of the captions and you could probably think of a sailor or two that fit the profile.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

Lists

5 useless border walls that barely slowed down the enemy

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then giant border walls must be made of the same material. For the cost, these fixed national fortifications did little good in keeping out those meant to stay on the other side.


The 6 most-secret units in military history
Even the Night’s Watch didn’t see it coming.

Historically, most barrier fortifications fall well short of its designer’s expectations and these were no different: they were just the most famous ones.

1. The Great Wall of China

This series of walls and forts was actually contructed over many centuries, beginning in the third century, BCE. The Chinese originally wanted to keep out roving barbarians from the North while protecting that border from invasion. It did neither.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
And Superman wasn’t around to rebuild it with his Wall Rebuilding… Vision. (Yes, someone put this in a movie.)

Originally conceived to be 3,000 miles long and anywhere from 15 to 50 high, it was the largest construction project by any civilization ever. Eventually, the Chinese expanded well beyond the wall. And even when they had to retreat, they were still overrun by the Liao and Jin people…and later, by the Great Khan.

2. The Theodosian Walls of Constantinople

These walls were also a series of fortifications built around the furthest extent of Constantinople (now Istanbul) by Emperor Theodosius II between 412-414 CE. While the three miles long, 40-foot walls were effective at keeping out medieval attackers, they weren’t so good against the new cannon technology.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
And once inside… well… you know.

The walls of the city fell in 1453, breached by the Ottoman Turks after only 53 days. The Byzantine defenders knew about the technology but spurned the inventor of the siege cannon because they couldn’t afford it. He then turned around and sold it to the Ottoman Sultan.

3. The Siegfried Line

This monster fortification featured concrete walls and ceilings anywhere from 20 inches to five feet thick. It had thousands of bunkers and tens of thousands of pillboxes and tank traps. Much of the 390 mile stretch of wall, concrete, razor wire, and mines must have been a very formidable sight, after its construction between 1938 and 1940.

The 6 most-secret units in military history

What slowed down American tanks at this “West Wall” in September 1944 was a lack of gasoline, not the line itself. The truth is that after years of neglect, the wall was overgrown by vegetation. The Germans didn’t have the manpower to man the wall and it wasn’t designed to fight the newest tanks built for the war. The Americans penetrated the wall within weeks.

4. The Maginot Line

The French did not actually believe their 940-mile network of bunkers, rail lines, concrete and steel would permanently keep out invaders, they just wanted something that would allow them to mobilize an effort to repel anyone who attacks them. So they built the Maginot Line between 1929 an 1936.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
This was impressive, but clearly not built in Belgium.

In the end, it didn’t even do that. The Germans attacked through Belgium, just as they did during the previous World War. And when the Nazis did advance on the Northernmost sections of the line, they took the fortifications in four days.

5. The Bar Lev Line

The Israelis built a $300 million fortification along the Suez Canal. They also knew it wouldn’t hold the Egyptians off forever if they were attacked suddenly. The Bar Lev Line was expected to hold them off for at least 24-48 hours while the IDF mounted a counter attack. You can probably guess how well it worked.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
That’s why we don’t use earthworks so much anymore.

Armed with 100 water cannons, the Egyptians broke through the $300 million fortification in about two hours. The water cannons swept away the earthworks and a 53-minute artillery barrage breached other, reinforced areas of the wall.

Lists

5 more of the greatest military heroes you’ve never heard of

When a person joins the military, they make a commitment to their country, service, and their brothers- and sisters-in-arms. Some, however, go beyond expectations and, determined that the lives of others are more important than their own, decide to go full beast-mode.


Here are just a few of those badasses:

Related: 5 reasons you should know about the hardcore Selous Scouts

5. Staff Sergeant Albert L. Ireland

Prior to enlisting in the United States Marine Corps in 1941, Albert Ireland served in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

After earning numerous purple hearts during World War II, Ireland was recalled to active service for the Korean War. He was unable to go back to combat service, however, due to having earned more than two purple hearts.

He then decided to go to Washington D.C. and talk to General Clifton B. Cates, the Commandant of the Marine Corps at the time, to try and convince him to let him go anyway. The commandant bought him a plane ticket to San Francisco, en route to Korea.

In 1953, Ireland received an honorable discharge after being wounded in the leg, hand, neck, and face. Overall, he earned 9 purple hearts on top of two bronze stars, along with campaign and service medals with eight bronze stars.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Marines typically won’t take, “no,” for an answer. (Image via Zero Foxtrot Instagram)

4. Duane Edgar Dewey

In 1951, Duane joined the Marines on an indefinite enlistment (the duration of the war plus an additional 6 months). He was a machine gun squad leader with Company E, 2nd battalion, 5th Marine regiment in Korea when he was wounded by a grenade that fell into his position.

While being treated by a corpsman, another enemy grenade landed near him. Quickly, he tossed the corpsman away before jumping on the grenade. When it exploded, Dewey was lifted off the ground, suffering shrapnel wounds all over the lower part of his body. He survived.

Dewey went on to be the first person awarded the Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower for his actions.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Duane Edgar Dewey is still alive today. (Image via Zero Foxtrot Instagram)

3. Staff Sergeant Nicky Daniel Bacon

During the Vietnam War, Nicky Daniel Bacon took command when his platoon leader was wounded. He then led his men to destroy enemy emplacements. But, when another platoon lost their leader, he took on command yet again.

During that attack alone, Staff Sergeant Bacon was personally credited with killing 4 enemy soldiers and an antitank gun.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
It takes a true warrior to take command of two platoons and spank the enemy. (Image via Free Republic)

2. Havildar Lachhiman Gurung

As a rifleman with the 8th Gurkha Rifles as part of the British Indian Army during World War II, Havildar Gurung was serving in Burma when over 200 Japanese soldiers attacked his position.

After returning two grenades, Gurung caught a third one, which exploded. It cost him his hand and an eye and inflicted serious damage to the rest of his arm, his torso, and his right leg. Despite this, he continued to fight for 4 hours with just one arm, ending 31 Japanese soldiers before reinforcements arrived.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
At age 27, Havildar Gurung stood at 4’11” and was 100% certified badass. (Image via Zero Foxtrot Instagram)

Also Read: 6 ways to be successful in the Marine infantry

1. Adjudant-chef Susan Travers

During World War II, Susan Travers, an Englishwoman, trained as a nurse before becoming an ambulance driver for the French Red Cross. While serving in Northern Africa with the French Foreign Legion, her unit was attacked by Rommel’s Afrika Corps, but she refused to be evacuated with all the other female personnel. She led 2,500 troops to safety, breaking through enemy lines and driving through machine gun fire and even over a landmine.

After the war, Travers applied to become an official member of the French Foreign Legion without specifying her sex. Her application was approved by an officer who admired her and she became the first ever female to officially serve as part of the French Foreign Legion.

She would go on to serve in Vietnam during the First Indochina War and, in 2000, published her autobiography, Tomorrow to Be Brave.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Image via Good Reads)

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