Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

During more than five decades of operational service, the Boeing B-52 heavy bomber has been the backbone of the strike capability of the U.S. Air Force. Its long range, ability to operate at high altitudes and capability to carry nuclear or precision-guided conventional ordnance to any point on the globe, has made it a key component of nuclear deterrence and U.S. National Security Strategy.


Development and design

Born of specifications for a new heavy bomber presented by Air Materiel Command in 1945, the first iteration of what would become the B-522, was the Boeing 464-40 created in 1946. This airframe was powered by turboprop engines, as jet engines were not yet seen as reliable or fuel efficient enough for long-range missions.

As development continued through the end of the decade, the project became the keystone for the fledgling U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command under the direction of Gen. Curtis LeMay. At his insistence, the XB-52 and YB-52, which had more operational equipment, featured 35-degree swept wings with eight Westinghouse turbojet engines.

The YB-52 first took flight in April 1952 and subsequent ground and flight testing lead the Air Force to order 282 of the new heavy bombers, beginning with the delivery of three B-52As and 10 B-52Bs by 1954.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Boeing YB-52 bomber in flight, with a bubble canopy, similar to that of the B-47.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

During the rollout ceremony, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Nathan Twining described the B-52 as “the long-rifle of the air age.”

The B-52 has since received many upgrades to communications, electronics, computing and avionics on the flight deck, as well as engines, fuel capacity and the weapons bay. These upgrades enable the B-52H to integrate into the new digital battlefield and precisely deliver a large array of weapons, from conventional, nuclear and smart bombs to conventional or nuclear cruise missiles, on targets anywhere in the world.The use of aerial refueling gives the B-52 a range limited only by crew endurance.

Further development included a reconnaissance variant, as well as a model used as a launch platform for 93 NASA X-15 missions to explore the boundaries of space. A B-52H is currently used for launching other research vehicles by NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California.

A total of 744 B-52s were built with the last, a B-52H, delivered in October 1962.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
B-52 Stratofortress aircrew depart the flightline after returning from an Operation Arc Light mission over Southeast Asia. Just as in earlier wars, the bombs painted on the fuselage showed the number of missions flown.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Operational history

In a conventional conflict, the B-52 can perform strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air, and maritime operations.

Throughout the Cold War, B-52s were a cornerstone of the Nuclear Triad, which was comprised of nuclear missile submarines, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and bombers capable of delivering nuclear bombs.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
(U.S. Air Force graphic by Maureen Stewart)

Throughout the Cold War B-52s were continuously airborne on alert patrols armed with nuclear weapons should hostilities erupt with the Soviet Union. These missions ended in 1991.

During the Vietnam War, beginning with Operations Arc Light and Rolling Thunder in 1965 and concluding with Operations Linebacker and Linebacker II in 1972, B-52s carried out various bombing campaigns.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers strike Viet Cong and North Vietnamese targets during operation Arc Light.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, B-52s flew over 1500 sorties and delivered 40 percent of all the weapons dropped by coalition forces. They struck wide-area troop concentrations, fixed installations and bunkers, and decimated the morale of Iraq’s Republican Guard.

They also bombed targets in Yugoslavia during Operation Allied Force in 1999 and Operations Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraqi Freedom in 2003, providing close air support through the use of precision guided munitions. They have most recently engaged in missions against ISIL targets in Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

All B-52s can be equipped with electro-optical viewing sensors, a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and advanced targeting pods to augment targeting, battle assessment, and flight safety, further improving its combat ability, day or night and in varying weather conditions utilizing a variety of standoff weapons, such as laser-guided bombs, conventional bombs, and GPS-guided weapons.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
A B-52 Stratofortress from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., takes fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England, Sept. 18, 2015, in the skies near Spain. The refueling was part of exercise Immediate Response, which included a three-ship formation o
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Austin M. May)

Did you know?

  • The B-52 is capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory, including gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided missiles and joint direct attack munitions.
  • Current engineering analyses show the B-52’s life span to extend beyond the year 2040.
  • B-52s also assist the Navy in ocean surveillance.
  • The lower deck crew of the B-52, the navigator and radar navigator, eject downward.
  • In 1972, a B-52 tail-gunner, Albert Moore, shot down a MiG-21 over Vietnam. It was the last recorded bomber-gunner to shoot down an enemy aircraft.
  • After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, 365 B-52s were destroyed under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The aircraft were stripped of usable parts, chopped into five pieces with a 13,000 pound steel blade and sold for scrap at 12 cents per pound.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Capt. Lance Adsit, the 20th Bomb Squadron aircraft commander, and Lt. Col. Erik Johnson, the 340th Weapons Squadron commander, fly a B-52 Stratofortress above the Gulf of Mexico, Oct. 13, 2016. Two B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and two B-1 Lancers from Dyess AFB, Texas, flew together and
(Photo by Senior Airman Curt Beach)

General characteristics – (source: AF.MIL)

  • Primary function: Heavy bomber
  • Contractor: Boeing Military Airplane Co.
  • Power plant: Eight Pratt & Whitney engines TF33-P-3/103 turbofan
  • Thrust: Each engine up to 17,000 pounds
  • Wingspan: 185 feet (56.4 meters)
  • Length: 159 feet, 4 inches (48.5 meters)
  • Height: 40 feet, 8 inches (12.4 meters)
  • Weight: Approximately 185,000 pounds (83,250 kilograms)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 488,000 pounds (219,600 kilograms)
  • Fuel capacity: 312,197 pounds (141,610 kilograms)
  • Payload: 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms)
  • Speed: 650 miles per hour (Mach 0.84)
  • Range: 8,800 miles (7,652 nautical miles)
  • Ceiling: 50,000 feet (15,151.5 meters)
  • Armament: Approximately 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms) mixed ordnance: bombs, mines and missiles. (Modified to carry air-launched cruise missiles)
  • Crew: five (aircraft commander, pilot, radar navigator, navigator and electronic warfare officer)
  • Unit cost: $84 million (fiscal 2012 constant dollars)
  • Initial operating capability: April 1952
  • Inventory: Active force, 58; ANG, 0; Reserve, 18
Articles

4 planes the Americans borrowed from Britain during World War II

The United States was the “Arsenal of Democracy” in World War II, but even this arsenal had to get a little help from allies. The British, in fact, loaned us some of their planes during that conflict. Here are four planes we borrowed from the Brits.


1. Supermarine Spitfire

Yes, even though the United States had the P-40, P-38, P-47, P-51, F4F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat, and the F4U Corsair, they had to acquire the plane that won the Battle of Britain.

The American Spitfires mostly saw service in North Africa and Italy, according to SpitfireSite.com, until they were replaced by P-51s. United States Army Air Force Spitfires scored almost 350 kills during World War II.

The Spitfire is also notable for being the plane that got Jimmy Doolittle chewed out by Eisenhower.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Spitfire LF Mk IX, MH434 being flown by Ray Hanna in 2005. The Spitfire served with the USAAF in the Mediterranean Theater from 1942-1944. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

2. Airspeed Horsa

Okay, this is technically a glider. Still, the United States needed a glider to bring in heavy gear for units like the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The Airspeed Horsa fit the bill with its ability to carry a lot of troops and gear, and the United States got 301 of the planes for D-Day, according to the book World War II Glider Assault Tactics.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
An Airspeed Hora glider under tow. The United States got over 300 of these for D-Day. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

3. Bristol Beaufighter

This was a multi-role heavy fighter, which packed a huge punch (four 20mm cannon, six .303-caliber machine guns). According to Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, the United States operated four squadrons of Beaufighters in the night-fighter role. These squadrons operated in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, eventually switching to the P-61 Black Widow.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
The Bristol Beaufighter, which equipped four USAAF squadrons in World War II. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

4. De Havilland Mosquito

This plane was very versatile, used for photo reconnaissance, as a night-fighter, as a heavy fighter, and even as a light bomber. The Army Air Force used a number of these planes in all of those roles during World War II, but historynet.com noted that most of them were crashed because this airborne hot rod was difficult to fly.

America may have missed out — the Mosquito is considered a legend.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
A de Havilland Mosquito NF Mark XIII of No. 256 Squadron RAF, caught in the beam of a Chance light on the main runway at Foggia Main, Italy, before taking off on a night intruder sortie over enemy territory. The USAAF equipped squadrons of bombers, night fighters, and recon planes with the Mosquito. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Even today, America’s importing warplanes: The A-29 Super Tucano is a Brazilian design, while the AV-8 Harrier was British.

Lists

8 useless pieces of gear the military still issues out

Every time a soldier steps into the Central Issue Facility, they are given a lot of gear — some necessary, like more uniforms, and some beloved, like the woobie.


But there’s a lot of gear that just never gets touched until the next time they come back to clear CIF. It’s probably still in the same packaging it came in when it’s turned over.

This crap just sits in a duffle bag, shoved in the back of the closet.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
And yet it will get rejected for not being cleaned — even if it’s still sealed in the friggin’ bag! (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joseph Moore)

8. Canteens

Ask any civilian to name a piece of military gear and they’ll say the canteen.

Back in the day, it was a life saver — no doubt about that. But today, it’s only ever seen in training environments or by that one “overly high speed” dude in every unit. The rest of us use water bottles or Camelbacks while we’re deployed.

Because rubber canteens are gross.

The canteen cup, however, is still very useful. It makes a great coffee cup/shaving water container/holder of smaller crap.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

7. Elbow Pads

Knee pads help protect a sensitive and fragile part of your body that really takes a beating (and will ultimately be destroyed anyway after years of ruck marching or one static jump). But until then, kneepads protect from bruising and lacerations, and, most importantly, help secure a more comfortable firing position.

Not the elbow pads. They just get in the way.

A common joke deployed is that you can always tell who the POGs are by either how they react to the Indirect Fire (IDF) siren or if they actually think other soldiers actually wear those useless pieces of crap that just slide down or restrict movement.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Makes even less sense is that they have the buckles and little sleeve thing. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood)

6. Most Rain Gear

Other units may authorize their Joes to wear most of the wet weather gear, others only allow it in the worst conditions that even the salty Sergeant Major has had enough of it. Shy of the Gortex top, no one touches their wet weather bottoms or boots.

Even the poncho only ever gets used as a makeshift shelter half on field exercises.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Or as a makeshift raft in Ranger competitions. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Austin Berner)

5. MOPP Boots

Speaking of useless boots, the pair that gets used interchangeably during lay outs is just as useless.

In an actual chemical gas attack, we put our gas mask on first. Followed by everything else in order of what is the most vital to survival. The boots? Nope. They take way too freaking long to put on in an emergency when you have bigger things to worry about. Taking the time to lace your MOPP boots properly definitely falls off the to-do list.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
In that time, you’re probably already dead. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Courtney Enos)

4. Glove Inserts

It’s nice when troops are allowed to wear gloves in formation. The problem is that the standard issue leather shells also need liners.

The glove inserts are just a thin piece of wool that do nothing to stop the cold. Wind cuts right through them and god help you if they ever get wet.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
There’s a reason everyone buys other pairs that get as close to regulation as possible. (Image via Olive Drab)

3. Load Bearing Vest (LBV)

The purpose behind the LBV makes no sense. It holds all of the gear that one would need down range, or at the range, but offers none of the protection of an actual ballistic vest.

So why not wear the actual ballistic vest? LBVs don’t do anything except dig into your shoulder.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Seriously. The only non-photoshopped image of a soldier actually wearing one (and not a mannequin or a tacticool civilian) I could find is from the Army’s official video on how to set one up. (Screengrab via YouTube)

2. Surefire ACH Light

Everyone wants to be high speed and rock the high speed gear…until it’s time to rock the high speed gear.

At first glance, these look nifty as hell. It would be helpful to have a hands free light guiding your way.

But no. Try working these with gloves on or switching to the red light without cycling through every single other function first.

Or even try to make it through a forest field training without bumping into something and losing the $200 waste of garbage. Good luck finding the right batteries for these things too.

Too complicated. Not worth it.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
I believe the Army stopped issuing these, but slick sleeve cherries still buy them at the PX. (Image via Armslist)

1. BVD Army Issued Skivvies

Anyone who says they didn’t immediately trash all pairs of these after Basic so they “can stay within regulation” is either way too ‘Hooah’ for their current rank or a damned dirty liar.

The skivvies are like sand paper grinding against your ‘sensitive bits’ whenever you take a step. No one will ever check to see if their subordinate is wearing proper under garments or even care (and if they do…there’s a much bigger problem at hand). Why not just wear whatever you bought at American Eagle or Target?

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
No. Just No. (Image via eBay)

MIGHTY CULTURE

These World War I troops claimed to be rescued by angels

In August, 1914, British troops were in full retreat from the World War I Battle of Mons in Northern France. The Germans chasing them were far greater in number, and the men were desperate. In a turn of good luck, they happened to pass a celebrated old battle site that turned the tide of their retreat, in an almost supernatural way – and that’s exactly how it was remembered.


The Battle of Mons went as well for the Brits as could be expected. It was the first test of the British Expeditionary Force in continental Europe. They fought hard, and the Germans paid dearly for their advance. But the French Fifth Army gave way to the Germans, and the British could not hold the line on their own. An orderly battle turned into a two-week rout that would end with the epic Battle of the Marne – but not unless the BEF could escape the oncoming Germans. They retreated south as orderly as possible.

On their way, they passed the site of the famous medieval Battle of Agincourt, where King Henry V’s English longbowmen devastated a French Army that outnumbered the English with estimates as high as 6-to-1. The retreating British troops of 1914 were on the run from a numerically superior German force when legend says a British soldier said a prayer to Saint George that changed the outcome of their retreat.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

St. George, the Christian dragon slayer.

George was a Roman Praetorian Guard for Emperor Diocletian, and was executed for not recanting his professed Christian faith centuries before the emperor converted the empire to Christianity. He is probably the most prominent of all soldier-saints. So, when a retreating British soldier asked St. George for help, it makes sense for the men of the retreating army to believe he may have intervened when the Germans suddenly broke off their pursuit.

After the battle, men present during the fighting chalked the sudden turn of events up to a number of supernatural explanations, each more awe-inspiring than the next. In the most prevalent retelling, the prayer to St. George caused an army of spectral English bowmen to appear, which both frightened and slaughtered the pursuing Germans.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

Looks like St. George needs to train his angels a bit.

The claims of the English soldiers were grounded by a fictional short story called “The Bowmen” written by Arthur Machen after the battle. In the book, angelic archers appear after a British soldier prays for help from St. George. Led by the patron saint of England, a thousand archers appeared and mowed down the enemy. Afterward, the German generals determined the BEF must be using a new gas weapon, as there were no wounds on the dead German troops.

Machen’s story was a fabrication, of course, based on a different story by Rudyard Kipling. That one was set in Afghanistan. But veterans of the Battle of Mons soon began to claim they were eyewitness to the spectral event. In each retelling, the story changes: German soldiers are found with arrow wounds, the ghost army was actually a team of angels in the form of medieval knights and led by St. George, or the BEF was able to retreat into a wall of clouds.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

World War I Ex Machina.

The Angels of Mons very quickly entered the lore and legends of the First World War, joined there by stories of ghouls living in No Man’s Land, crucified Canadian soldiers, and the end of the war by Christmas.

Articles

The US Navy learned a lot of lessons the hard way at the Battle of Santa Cruz

If you wanted to visit the carrier the Doolittle Raiders flew from, the USS Hornet (CV 8), you need to go to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Specifically, the place to look is near the Santa Cruz Islands, where a major naval battle was fought 74 years ago. It is notable for being the last time the United States lost a fleet carrier.


So, what made Santa Cruz such a big deal? Partly it was because the Japanese were desperately trying to take Henderson Field, and felt they had a chance to do so. They had pushed the United States Navy to the limit after the battles of Savo Island and the Eastern Solomons. A submarine had also put USS Wasp (CV 7) on the bottom with a devastating salvo of torpedoes that also sank a destroyer and damaged USS North Carolina (BB 55).

Admiral Chester Nimitz had sent Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, who had just recovered from dermatitis that caused him to miss the Battle of Midway. Halsey decided to hit the Japanese Fleet first. The orders: “Attack – Repeat Attack!”

American planes damaged the carriers Shokaku and Zuiho, as well as the heavy cruiser Chikuma. The destroyer USS Porter (DD 356) took a hit from a torpedo fired by the Japanese submarine I-21 (although some sources claim the damage was from a freak incident involving a torpedo from a crashed TBF Avenger). USS Enterprise took two bomb hits, but was still in the fight, and would later retire from the scene after surviving two more attacks.

USS Hornet was hit by three bombs, two suicide planes, and two torpedoes in the first attack. Despite that damage, she was mostly repaired by eleven in the morning. However, that afternoon, a second strike put another torpedo into the 20,000-ton carrier. Halsey ordered the Hornet scuttled.

USS Mustin (DD 413) and USS Anderson (DD 411) put three torpedoes and over 400 five-inch shells into the Hornet before they had to retreat in the face of a substantial Japanese surface force. USS Hornet would not go down until the Japanese destroyers Akigumo and Makigumo put four Long Lance torpedoes into her hull.

All in all, Hornet took ten torpedoes, two suicide planes, and three bombs before she went down. Her sister ship, USS Yorktown (CV 5) had taken three bombs and four torpedoes before she went down at Midway, having also survived two bomb hits at the Battle of the Coral Sea that had not been completely repaired.

The lessons of the losses of USS Yorktown and USS Hornet would pay their own dividends. The United States would only lose one light carrier, USS Princeton (CVL 23), and six escort carriers for the rest of the war. Carriers like USS Franklin (CV 13) and USS Bunker Hill (CV 17) would survive severe damage in 1945, while USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and USS Forrestal (CV 59) would survive frightful fires during the Vietnam War.

popular

This is how two WWII veterans changed baseball forever

There have been many iconic moments throughout the storied history of baseball. Every team has their collection of defining moments, immortalized in photos hung on the walls of stadiums across the nation. And then there are those transcendent plays that everyone knows, like when Babe Ruth pointed to a spot in the bleachers, calling his shot perfectly — a move that’s often imitated, but rarely ever repeated.

But fans of baseball know that the top two moments are universal and unrivaled: The greatest moment was when Jackie Robinson took his first step over the white chalk and entered the Major Leagues. The crowds heckled Robinson, game after game, until the Dodgers’ team captain, Pee Wee Reese, was fed up — which led to the second greatest moment: Reese placed his arm around Robinson, sending a message of friendship into the stands, silencing the jeers.

But their story didn’t begin on the diamond. It began when both Army 2nd Lt. Jackie Robinson and Navy Chief Petty Officer Harold “Pee Wee” Reese served their country during World War II.


Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Your wartime experience may differ.

 

Reese had a fairly light military career compared to most. Before he enlisted, he’d already made a name for himself in the baseball world. In 1940, during his rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he hit a grand slam against the New York Giants in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. He went on to play in the World Series in ’41 against the Yankees, but his team got swept, losing all five games. He gained national recognition when he made the ’42 All-Star Team. He missed the next three seasons as he signed up to take to fighting in WWII as a U.S. Navy Seabee.

But he never got the chance to see combat. Despite his constant petitions, Pee Wee Reese was stuck playing for the U.S. Navy’s baseball team, which, as you can imagine, was mostly for recruitment purposes. While he was playing in Guam, Reese learned that a black baseball player — Jackie Robinson — had been signed by the Dodgers, and was up for his old shortstop position.

This bothered Reese — and not because of Robinson’s race. In fact, others were mad at him for refusing to let race be a concern of his when evaluating a purely baseball decision. In response to critics, he said,

“If he’s man enough to take my job, I’m not gonna like it, but, dammit, black or white, he deserves it.”

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

Members of the 761st Tank Battalion “The Black Panthers” would go on to earn a Medal of Honor, 11 Silver Stars, and almost 300 Purple Hearts.

Robinson didn’t enjoy the same luxuries while in the Army. Previously, he had attended UCLA and became the school’s first athlete to win a varsity letter in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track and field. He used this to apply for OCS, knowing that the Army had just changed the OCS guidelines to be race neutral — but it still wasn’t easy.

After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Robinson was placed in a segregated Army cavalry unit at Fort Riley. It was through a friendship with fellow OCS candidate, the professional boxer who KO’ed Nazi Germany’s favorite fighter in the first round, Joe Louis, that both men were allowed to attend OCS.

His career was unceremoniously cut short after an entirely one-sided court martial was levied against him. Even though Robinson was a commissioned officer of the United States Army and segregation on military buses was banned, the MPs arrested him after he refused to give up his seat when he was taking his friend’s wife to the hospital.

He put up no fight but was cuffed, shackled, and strapped to a hospital bed because they believed he was “intoxicated.” He wasn’t. The charges he faced were slowly dropped before his court-martial. He was narrowly acquitted. Despite this, he was sent to Camp Breckinridge, KY, as his former unit, the 761st Tank Battalion, was deployed. It was the first black tank unit to see combat in WWII. Instead of seeing action, he was quietly mustered out with an honorable discharge months later.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

Through his own talent, he’d prove them wrong by earning Rookie of the Year in 1947.

So, Robinson went back to playing professional baseball for the Kansas City Monarchs, a team in the Negro American League. It wasn’t long before Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, saw how talented he was. The news quickly got out that the Dodgers had signed the first black ballplayer.

Fearing fan backlash, they sent him to their Minor League affiliate team, the Montreal Royals. With Robinson on the team, the stands were packed during Royals games. Fans came in droves to see him play — so they called him up to play for the Dodgers, who’d taken Reese back after the war’s end.

Then, on April 15th, 1947, the Dodgers faced off against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field. Robinson stepped onto the field and became the first black player to play in the MLB since 1884. For the most part, the home crowd loved him. Away games, however, were another story entirely.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

This led way for many more black baseball players to join the MLB and their friendship would serve as a proof that desegregation of the military was possible through Executive Order 9981.

It’s been said that while playing the Cincinnati Reds, Robinson received death threats. Understandably, this made him very nervous. He’d turned the other cheek so many times before, but with his life at stake, this wasn’t so simple. Reese saw what was happening and decided to take a stand.

Reese and Robinson had become best friends over the games they played together. They bonded in the locker room and on the field. They would talk and share stories for hours at a time about what they had in common — military service being one of them.

As the Cincinnati crowd and players on the Reds hurled obscenities at Robinson during pre-game infield practice, Reese raised a hand in the air and walked from shortstop to first base and placed his arm around Robinson’s shoulders. The two didn’t say anything — they just stared into the dugout and the bleachers. The jeering stopped.

The captain of one of the greatest baseball teams at the time had shown the world that these two men were teammates, friends, and brothers-in-arms — and that race didn’t affect any of that.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia is not happy about the extra 300 Marines headed to Norway

Russia has vowed to retaliate against a plan by Norway to more than double the number of U.S. Marines stationed in the country.

The Russian Embassy in Oslo issued the warning on June 14, 2018, two days after Norway announced it will ask the United States, its NATO ally, to send 700 Marines starting 2019.

The move came amid increasing wariness among nations bordering Russia following Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014.


The Russian Embassy said that Norway’s plan, if realized, would make Norway “less predictable and could cause growing tensions, triggering an arms race, and destabilizing the situation in northern Europe.”

“We see it as clearly unfriendly, and it will not remain free of consequence,” it said in a statement.

Some 330 U.S. Marines currently are scheduled to leave Norway at the end of 2018 after an initial contingent arrived in January 2017 to train for fighting in winter conditions. They were the first foreign troops to be stationed in Norway, a member of NATO, since World War II.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Admiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen, Norwegian Chief of Defence, tour the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway in the Frigaard Cave, Sept. 20, 2017.
(DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide told reporters on June 12, 2018, that the additional U.S. troops would be based closer to the border with Russia in the Inner Troms region in the Norwegian Arctic, about 420 kilometers from Russia, rather than in central Norway.

Soereide also said that the decision to increase the U.S. presence has broad support in parliament and does not constitute the establishment of a permanent U.S. base in Norway.

The initial decision to welcome the Marines irked Russia, with Moscow warning that it would worsen bilateral relations with Oslo.

NATO’s massive exercise Trident Juncture 18 is due to take place in and around Norway in October-November 2018.

All 29 NATO allies, as well as Finland and Sweden, will participate in the drills, which will involve some 40,000 troops, 70 ships, and 130 aircraft.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

4 unusual weapons from the Civil War

In 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln escaped the Baltimore Plot with the help of his bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon and detective Allan Pinkerton, eluding assassins. Lincoln’s tough guy had an assortment of weapons, according to the June 1895 edition of McClure’s Magazine, including a pair of heavy revolvers, brass knuckles, a Bowie knife, and a slung-shot. The slung-shot was a crude weapon with a weight tied to a wrist strap, popular among street gangs of the era.

The man responsible for protecting the life of the president carried some peculiar weapons, and the American Civil War that followed featured some unusual weapons as well.

The Arkansas Toothpick

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Pvt. John L. Wood, Company D, 3rd North Carolina Volunteers Regiment, showing an “Arkansas Toothpick,” a weapon similar to the Bowie knife, and sheath with initials J.L.W. Photo by Charles Rees, 1861, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Arkansas Toothpick, similar to the Bowie knife, was a heavy dagger with a pointed and straight blade ranging from 12 to 20 inches long. It was versatile, used in service for throwing, thrusting, and slashing. The large-bladed weapon was carried in a holster across the back. It was said to be heavy enough for chopping wood and sharp enough for shaving and combat.

Ketchum Grenade

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Though deadly in its time, the Ketchum hand grenade might remind kids today of a Nerf foam football. Photo courtesy of the civilwarvirtualmuseum.org.

The Ketchum grenade has a strong resemblance to the Nerf foam footballs that wail through the air when thrown. Only, when these hit the ground, they explode — or at least, that was the idea. Patented in 1861 by New York inventor William F. Ketchum, the grenade was used by the Union Army. These Ketchum grenades, however, were largely ineffective. If the nose of the grenade didn’t strike the ground, it didn’t detonate. Confederate soldiers even used blankets to catch them.  

Calcium Floodlights

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Equipped with calcium lights, the Union Navy was able to keep up the bombardment of Fort Sumter around the clock. Photo courtesy of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.

First appearing in lighthouses and theaters in the 1830s, calcium floodlights were repurposed during the Civil War in 1863 in an operation to retake Charleston Harbor. Using the lights, Gen. Quincy Adams Gillmore bombarded the Confederate stronghold at Fort Wagner around the clock. The calcium lights, or “limelights,” were chemical lamps that used superheated balls of lime, or calcium oxide, to create an incandescent glow and turn the night into day. The Union engineers not only illuminated their artillery targets but also blinded the Confederate gunners and riflemen. The limelights also spotted Confederate warships, blockade runners, and ironclad fleets.

Coal Torpedo

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Weapons of the Civil War included the coal torpedo. This example was prepared as a model, with a partial coal dust coating and the plug left out. It was found in Jefferson Davis’ office by Union Gen. Edward Ripley when Union forces captured Richmond in April 1865. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The coal torpedo was an improvised explosive device (IED) developed by Confederate spy Thomas Edgeworth Courtenay to carry out acts of sabotage. These nasty little bombs appeared to be ordinary clumps of coal. The hollowed-out iron artillery shells were loaded with several ounces of gunpowder, sealed with beeswax, and covered in coal dust. Dozens of saboteurs were given orders to place them in Union coal stockpiles in hopes they would be brought aboard Union steam-powered warships. 

Rear Adm. David Dixon Porter, a commander of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, recalled the havoc a coal torpedo could create aboard a ship. “When the torpedo was thrown into the furnace with the coal, it soon burst, blowing the furnace-doors open and throwing the burning mass into the fire-room, where it [began to burn] the wood-work,” he wrote.

The concept for coal torpedos as weapons didn’t end with the Civil War. Eddie Chapman, a double agent working for the British during World War II, was provided an explosive device by his German handlers. It was, as the coal torpedoes were, disguised as coal. He was ordered to get it into the coal bunker of a ship. Instead, Chapman turned it over to authorities.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

What it looks like when Marines fire their biggest guns

Last year, the Australian Army hosted one of its largest military exercises with participants from the U.S. Marine Corps and the French military working side-by-side with Australian forces. The three militaries practiced how to work with each other as well as how to best incorporate the strengths of each force.

And that gives us a perfect chance to watch the highly mobile, flexible and lethal Marine artilleryman at work.


For warfighting exercise Koolendong, the 3rd Battalion, 11 Marines brought out their “Triple Sevens.” These are M777 howitzers which fire 155mm shells. An M777 is capable of sending a 103-pound shell to a target almost 14 miles away and of hitting that target within 54 yards thanks to a GPS-guided fuze.

An extended-range version of the round can go almost 23 miles at maximum range.

But of course, the rounds and the howitzers are only as good as the artillerymen manning them, and the Marines in the video above prove themselves quite capable of using their weapon to maximum effect.

While other troops sometimes make fun of artillerymen with accusations that they’re too weak to walk all the way to the target or too dumb for other work, the fact is that artillery requires a crap-ton of math, even more upper body strength, and an insane level of attention to detail.

And that need for strength and attention to detail only gets greater the larger the gun is. And if artillery is king of the battle, the M777 is a roided-out king who could wrestle a lion.

There’s a Marine who ferries ammunition from the truck or ammo supply point to the weapon, which requires a quick movement of dozens of yards while carrying over 100 pounds every time he does it.

There are two Marines who work together to ram the round from its staged position into the breech, something that is accomplished with a massive, heavy tool that they sprint against.

There’s the gunner who’s trying to make sure his weapon is perfectly aimed after each shot, even though it settles into the dirt differently after every firing. The tiniest mistake in his measurements could send the round hundreds of yards off target.

And while the crew is firing at its sustained rate, of two rounds per minute, it can be tough. But their max firing rate is five rounds per minute, meaning that they have to repeat their physically and mentally challenging jobs every twelve seconds without fail. To see what that looks like, check out the video at top if you haven’t already.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is how General Pershing’s ‘favorite doughboy’ earned the Medal of Honor

Samuel Woodfill already had a lengthy career in the U.S. Army by the time the United States declared war on Germany in 1917. The son of a Mexican-American War and Civil War veteran, he enlisted in 1901 at the age of 18 and left his native Indiana.


After basic training, Pvt. Woodfill found himself assigned to the 11th Infantry Regiment stationed in the Philippines. He saw action in various campaigns against the rebellious Moros and earned accolades as a crack shot and for his “honest and faithful service.” In 1910, Woodfill left the Philippines for a number of duty stations. Over the next seven years, he would see service in Alaska, Kentucky, and on the Mexican border. But he would not see any more combat in that time.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Samuel Woodfill served in many places over his long career.

Then, everything changed. America declared war on Germany. Woodfill, then a sergeant, attended an officer training course and received a temporary wartime rank of 2nd lieutenant. Soon after, he was given command of a machine gun company of the 60th Infantry Regiment, 5th Division. Finally, in April 1918 his unit sailed for France.

However, the 5th Division stayed in the rear until October 1918 when they were sent to the front to take part in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

Woodfill was leading his company in an attack near the village of Cunel when they came under heavy German machine gun fire from multiple positons. He ordered his company to take cover while he moved forward alone to scope out the situation.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
The fighting in the Meuse-Argonne area was muddy and brutal.

He quickly spotted three German machine gun nests that were firing on his men. Using the stalking skills he learned hunting in the backwoods of Indiana, he approached the Germans unseen and prepared to take them out.

The three German positions were well concealed in some bushes, an old barn, and a derelict church, respectively. Woodfill took aim at the machine gunner firing on his men in the church tower about 300 yards away. Unable to make out the gunner, he simply took aim at a position behind the muzzle flash and pulled the trigger. The gun fell silent. This was repeated four more times, as each German crewmember stepped forward to take their place on the gun.

Woodfill dropped another five-round clip in his Springfield and moved on to the next target. A single shot at the German in the barn put an end to the firing from that position.

He next maneuvered on a third machine gun position. In doing so, he took cover in a shell hole filled with lingering mustard gas. He approached to within ten yards of the position. Then, in rapid succession, he dispatched three of the crew members with his rifle. A fourth, a German officer, charged Woodfill and engaged him in hand-to-hand combat. He overcame the officer and killed him with a M1911 pistol.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

With this line of machine guns silenced, Lt. Woodfill’s company continued their advance until they were again held up by a German machine gun nest. The officer once again raced forward to single-handedly attack the position. He killed the entire machine gun crew with his rifle before capturing three ammunition carriers from the position.

As the advance continued, Woodfill’s men again ran into murderous German machine gun fire. And once again their leader charged forward to handle the situation. Woodfill dispatched this crew with five shots from his rifle before drawing his pistol and charging the position to take on the remaining men. He killed one man with his pistol before grabbing a nearby pick axe and bludgeoning the other to death.

By this time, Woodfill was suffering heavily from exposure to mustard gas and was limping from a shrapnel wound. He was evacuated from the front lines and sent to Bordeaux to recover.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
An American machine gun position during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. German positions were similarly manned and hidden.

 

On Jan. 22, 1919, Woodfill was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions the previous fall. The next month, Gen. John Pershing personally presented the award to the young lieutenant.

In 1921, Gen. Pershing bestowed two more honors on Woodfill. When asked that year to name the outstanding American soldier of the Great War, Pershing surprised everyone by naming Lt. Samuel Woodfill, claiming he had always considered him “America’s Greatest Doughboy,” over the likes of Alvin York, Charles Wittlesey of the Lost Battalion, and even Eddie Rickenbacker.

Pershing then named Woodfill as a pallbearer, this time along with Alvin York, for the internment of the first Unknown Soldier.

The legendary soldier, having reverted to his pre-war enlisted status, retired from the Army as a Master Sergeant in 1923. However, he served his country again during World War II. Then commissioned a Major, he trained and inspired young officers as they prepared for the great challenges ahead.

 

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Master Sgt. Samuel Woodfill, wearing his Medal of Honor.

Woodfill’s final service to his country was to once again act as a pallbearer, this time for his former commanding officer and supporter, Gen. Pershing. Woodfill himself passed away at the age of 68 in August 1951.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Daniel Craig is injured on set of Bond 25

James Bond has fallen and it looks like his final mission has been put on hold. But for how long?

On May 14, 2019, Variety reported that 007 actor Daniel Craig reportedly “slipped and fell quite awkwardly,” which resulted in a twisted ankle and led to him being “flown to the U.S. for X-rays.” This report comes from unnamed sources at The Sun, meaning, for now, the top-secret allies of James Bond (or anyone from EON productions) have not confirmed this is real.

According to the report, Craig was filming the final scenes of the new film in Jamaica, and subsequent scenes, thought to be shot at Pinewood Studios in London have been suspended. Should Bond fans worry? Will the movie ever be completed?


BOND 25 Live Reveal

www.youtube.com

In all likelihood, Daniel Craig will bounce back and the movie will still come out on time. After all, Harrison Ford broke his leg in 2014, and The Force Awakens still came out on time in 2015. We’re not saying who is tougher — Daniel Craig or Harrison Ford — but if Han Solo can deal with a broken leg, then James Bond can get over a twisted ankle.

That said, here’s hoping Craig makes a swift recovery, if only so he can get back to his dad duties as well as his secret agent work, too.

Bond 25 doesn’t have a title yet is and is scheduled to be out sometime in February 2020.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This website will help you find old service-friends

The United States military is a brotherhood and sisterhood like no other. Those who serve together form a common sense of purpose and devotion to duty. It’s a level of trust not commonly found in civilian life. Those military friendships last forever. But as life moves, and when people leave the military, they often lose touch with those friends, some of whom they would have given their life for.

Tracking down old friends, particularly if you have been out of the service many years, is not always easy. But there is one company that can help. Together We Served (TWS) is a veteran-only website, launched in 2003. It provides veterans a highly-effective means to reconnect with old service-friends by simply entering their service history on their TWS Military Service Page.


TWS built an individual website for each branch of service and, with over 1.9 million veteran members, the chances of finding people you served with is high.

The secret behind TWS’s ability to connect more veterans is the depth of its databases. Over the past 16 years, TWS has built one of the most comprehensive databases of U.S. Military training and operating units in existence. Its databases span from WW2 to present day.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

Military Service Page.

Sample Together We Served Military Service Page

By creating your Military Service Page on Together We Served, you can not only find veterans who went to the same basic training as you, or served in the same units or duty stations, but also those who participated in the same combat or non-combat operations. TWS’s search engine automatically matches the service information you enter on your Military Service Page with the service information on the Military Service Pages of all other TWS members. Those members, whose entries could match yours, get listed on your Service Page. That is what enables you to make contact with those you may know. This powerful feature helps veterans remember forgotten names.

Finding key people on TWS can be very helpful, especially if you need or can provide witness account to support a potential VA claim.

Take this opportunity to reconnect with the servicemen and women you shared some of the most important times of your life with. In recognition of your service, Together We Served provides all VA veterans with a FREE one year premium membership, providing unlimited people searches, when you join TWS via the following link:

Free one-year premium Together We Served membership

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

102-year-old WWII Navy WAVES vet would ‘do it again’

When the Navy called on women to volunteer for shore service during World War II to free up men for duty at sea, 102-year-old Melva Dolan Simon was among the first to raise her hand and take the oath.

“I went in so sailors could board ships and go do what they were supposed to be doing,” said Simon. She recalled her military service as “something different” in an era when women traditionally stayed home while men went off to war. “I helped sailors get on their way.”

Simon was 25 years old in October 1942 and working as an office secretary at the former Hurst High School in Norvelt — a small Pennsylvania town named for Eleanor Roosevelt — when she joined the Navy’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES.


Simon was the first woman in her hometown of Bridgeport, Pa., to join the WAVES, according to a yellowed clipping of a 1942 newspaper article. She was also among the first in the nation to join the service. It was just three months earlier, on July 30, 1942, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had signed the law establishing the corps.

“I had a good job with the school, but I felt I would be doing more for my country by being in the service,” said Simon.

The seventh of 12 children, Simon said she chose the Navy because several of her brothers were already serving in the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

WWII Navy WAVES Veteran Melva Dolan Simon’s service memorabilia includes her rank and insignia, photos and official documents.

“They were all enlisted, and I thought, well, what’s wrong with joining the Navy?” said Simon. “I decided I wanted to go, and I was accepted.”

Simon attended WAVES Naval Station Training at Oklahoma AM College (now Oklahoma State University) in Stillwater, Okla. Each class of 1,250 yeoman learned military discipline, march and drill, and naval history over a six to eight-week training period.

“That’s where we learned the basics of the Navy,” said Simon. “We were trained to march, we studied hard, and they drilled into us how important what we were doing was.”

After completing basic, many of the WAVES trainees spent another 12 weeks at the college for advanced training in secretarial duties.

From Oklahoma, Simon was assigned to active duty at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, which during World War II employed 40,000, built 53 warships and repaired another 1,218. She and her fellow yeomen earned anywhere from to 5 in basic pay per month, depending on their rank, plus food and quarters allowance, unless provided by the Navy.

Simon lived on the all-female fourth floor of the Benjamin Franklin Hotel in Philadelphia. WAVES personnel were under strict orders not to visit any other floors of the hotel – an order Simon said she followed.

“I didn’t go on the other floors,” said Simon, sternly. “It was none of my business.”

Simon’s military responsibilities included taking dictation from the officer in charge, performing clerical duties and driving officers around the base.

“They gave me a driver’s license for the Navy, and I would drive these officers, sometimes just very short distances,” Simon said, smiling as she motioned from her seat at a dining room table to the far side of her kitchen. “I thought that was interesting because it would have done them some good if they’d just walked.”

Simon wrote letters home to her family at first, then sent her parents money to have a home phone installed. Simon said that home phones were a luxury at the time. Before they installed the phone, her family used a telephone at a nearby store to call her.

“I sent them money every payday to keep the phone bill paid,” Simon said. “It was much easier to call than to sit down and write, especially since I was writing all day at the office.”

The phone also allowed her future husband, Joseph “Joe” Simon, to keep in touch with her. The two had met at the high school where Joe Simon worked as an agriculture teacher, and he’d visit with her when she was home on leave. They married in July 1945, just a few weeks before Melva Simon received an honorable discharge from the Navy in August 1945.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

WAVES standing in formation.

(DoD photo)

The couple purchased a 22-acre farm in 1947 in Mt. Pleasant Township, Pa., where they supplemented Joe’s teacher’s salary by growing and selling sweet corn.

“It sold like hot fire because it was good sweet corn,” Melva Simon said. “Then Joe planted apple trees, and that’s what we decided to do.”

The couple started an apple orchard — Simon’s Apple Orchard — that remains family-run today. The orchard opens its doors to customers every fall, offering everything from pure sweet cider still made using the Simons’ original recipe to bags of fresh McIntosh, Stayman, Rome, Jonathan, red and yellow delicious, and other apple varieties.

At the VA

Melva Simon worked the orchard alongside her husband, then took over when he died in 2004 at the age of 88. Still spry at 102, she drove tractors, harvested apples, made cider and worked the counter at a small shop on the property until just a few years ago.

Blessed with a lifetime of good health, Melva Simon only recently discovered she is eligible for health care benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. With the help of her daughter, Melvajo Bennett, the World War II veteran has, since August, received care through VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System’s Westmoreland County VA Outpatient Clinic.

“It didn’t dawn on her to go to the VA because she’s always had such good health and never really had to see the doctor,” said Bennett. “But they’ve been wonderful with how they are treating her.”

Asked for the secret to good health and a long life, Melva Simon gave a simple answer.

“There is no secret,” she said. “All it takes is simple living. I eat simple food. I don’t drink, and I don’t smoke.”

As for her military service, Melva Simon said she’d do it all over again.

“That was all I ever wanted to do, was to do something for the government and the country,” she said. “I’d do it again.”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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