The first 'Memphis Belle' was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions - We Are The Mighty
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The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions

You’ve probably heard of the Memphis Belle, especially after the 1990 film starring Matthew Modine and Harry Connick, Jr.


That film took a lot of liberties with the story of the actual B-17 that was the subject of a documentary done during World War II, “Memphis Belle: The Story of a Flying Fortress.”

But history can also be very malleable, especially in the hands of Hollywood.

When Hollywood director William Wyler was doing a documentary for the U.S. government on the first Allied bomber crew to complete a 25-mission “tour” over Europe, he took some liberties. Why? Because it was World War II, and the bombing campaign over Europe was a bloody affair. In fact, the Directors Guild of America notes that during the filming of the documentary, cinematographer and World War I vet Harold J. Tannebaum was killed when the Nazis shot down the B-24 Liberator he was in.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
The Memphis Belle in the sky, June 1943. (USAF photo)

According to the memoirs of Robert Morgan, the pilot of the Memphis Belle, Wyler had picked a different bomber for the feature film, a B-17 known as “Invasion 2nd.” That plane – and five others – were shot down on an April 17, 1943, mission to Bremen. The Memphis Belle was chosen to replace Invasion 2nd – Morgan related how he was told that another plane had a back-up film crew on a bomber called “Hell’s Angels” in case the Memphis Belle went down. Wyler actually filmed parts of multiple missions for the documentary – the mission portrayed on the film was actually the Memphis Belle’s 24th mission.

Of course, the Memphis Belle did complete the tour – and she got all the accolades of being the “first” to do so. The crew of Hell’s Angels, though, actually flew their 25th mission a week before the Memphis Belle flew her 25th mission. The documentary, though, became a classic.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
The Memphis Belle on a War Bond tour. (USAF photo)

Wyler went on to direct a documentary about the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt’s operations in Italy, titled, “Thunderbolt!” He was wounded by an exploding anti-aircraft shell, losing some of his hearing.

After the war, he went on to direct the classic films “The Best Years of Our Lives” — a movie about veterans who returned home that won nine Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director — and “Ben Hur,” featuring former B-25 gunner Charlton Heston, which won 11 Oscars.

Today, “Memphis Belle: The Story of a Flying Fortress” is available via the Internet Archive and Netflix is also streaming the film. It is also on Youtube. Feel free to watch it below. The Memphis Belle is currently being restored at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Navy tradition that rewards ice cream for rescued pilots

Imagine you’re a Navy torpedo pilot in World War II. Your life is exciting, your job is essential to American security and victory, but you spend most days crammed into a metal matchbox filled with gas, strapped with explosives, and flying over shark-filled waters of crushing depths. But your Navy wants to get you back if you ever go down, so it came up with a novel way of rescuing you: ice cream bounties.


The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions

The wake coming off this thing could easily drown even a strong swimmer.

(U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command)

Before helicopters were stationed on carriers after World War II, those massive ships had few good options for rescuing pilots who had to bail out over the sea. It’s not like they could just pull the floating city up alongside the swimming pilot and drop him a line. After all, carriers displace a lot of water and could easily swamp a swimmer. And rescuing a pilot like that would restrict or temporarily stop aircraft launches and recoveries.

So, carrier crews came up with a silly but effective way of rewarding boat crews and those of smaller ships for helping their downed pilots out: If they brought a pilot back to the carrier, the carrier would give them gallons of ice cream and potentially some extra goodies like a bottle or two of spirits.

The exact amount of ice cream transferred was different for different carriers, and it seems to have changed over time. But Daniel W. Klohs was a sailor on the USS Hancock in World War II, and he remembered being on the bridge the first time a destroyer brought back a pilot:

I told the captain (Hickey) that it was customary to award the DD with 25 gallons of ice cream for the crew and two bottles of whiskey for the Capt. and Exec. We ended up giving 30 gallons of ice cream because it was packed in 10-gallon containers. This set a new precedent for the return of aviators.

Carriers could rarely swing about, slow down, and pick up their own pilots, especially in the heat of battle. But a small destroyer or PT boat could fire a salvo of torpedoes at enemy subs and ships and then swing around and try to get a swimming pilot aboard.

Obviously, sailor to sailor, these rescues would’ve happened anyway. But the carriers figured that any goodwill they could foster in the other crews to rescue their pilots might help the aviators’ chances in the water. And while some submarines and other vessels had their own ice cream, it was a rare treat in most of the deployed Navy and Army. But carriers had massive freezers and stockpiles.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions

​Destroyers like the USS Yarnall could look forward to some well-earned desert if they were the ones to pass an aviator back to his carrier.

(U.S. Navy)

Tom Kocurko spent World War II in the Navy, serving on cruisers and destroyers and even wading ashore with Marines to direct naval gunfire. It was while he was on a destroyer escorting a carrier that he found out about the ice cream tradition.

“We’d get 10 gallons of ice cream every time we picked up a pilot, which was a real treat. So we started joking, ‘Let’s shoot one down.”‘

For the pilots, this could feel a bit reductive. Lt. Cmdr. Norman P. Stark was a Hellcat pilot in World War II, and he was shot down while attacking Japanese positions on Okinawa. After a controlled dive and crash into the ocean, his fellow aviators marked his location and called for rescue. A floatplane from a battleship pulled him out.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions

Coast Guard pilot Lt. John Pritchard helped rescue air crews in Greenland and surrounding waters, eventually disappearing while rescuing crewmembers from a lost bomber. Small planes like his could land in the water, pick up pilots, and return to a cutter or other ship.

(U.S. Coast Guard)

But then the battleship transferred him to a destroyer, and the destroyer crew was happy to have him … because of the ice cream:

After disembarking from the canvas bag, I was greeted like a long lost brother. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that they weren’t seeing me, but what I was worth to them–10 gallons of ice cream. Destroyer crews loved to rescue pilots. A pilot returned to his carrier was exchanged for 10 gallons of ice cream.

A little later in his history, available here, Stark says:

The Yarnall came alongside the Wasp, shot a line which was made fast, and I was transferred back to my Carrier. This was a dry trip. The 10 gallons of ice cream was passed to the Yarnall, and as they pulled away, I saw grins, from ear to ear. At least I had finally ascertained my true value–10 gallons of ice cream.

As carriers began to receive their own rescue helicopters after World War II, the tradition became less important. A Naval Aviation News reporter asked a helicopter crew about it in 1958:

Does the carrier greet the rescue crew with special treatment when a pilot is saved, like the old practice whereby a carrier gave a destroyer five gallons of ice cream for returning a downed pilot?
“You kidding?” a pilot asks. “They give us a hard time for delaying operations!”

But the first helicopter rescue of a carrier pilot was actually effected by a civilian crew from Sikorsky there to sell the Navy on the value of rescue helicopters in 1947. Since the helicopter pilot was a Sikorsky employee and not a member of the carrier crew, the carrier ponied up 10 gallons per pilot rescued.

The Sikorsky crew had picked up three downed pilots and so was lined up for a 30-gallon bounty which the carrier gave them all at once on their last day aboard. The Sikorsky pilot had to quickly gift the ice cream back to the carrier crew in an impromptu ice cream social since he couldn’t possibly eat 30 gallons in mere minutes.

Articles

China’s newest infantry fighting vehicle takes a page out of Russia’s armor book

China didn’t just unveil a new tank during a demonstration at a NORINCO-owned range in Inner Mongolia, its military also unveiled a new infantry fighting vehicle. The demonstration of the VN-17 took place alongside that of the VT-5 light tank.


According to a report by Janes.com, the VN-17 is based on the chassis, powerplant, transmission, armored protection, and tracks of the VT-5. This is not a new set-up, as Russia’s Armata family of armored fighting vehicles includes both a tank and infantry fighting vehicle. The VN-17 has a 30mm cannon in an unmanned turret, along with two anti-tank missiles.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
NORINCO VT-5 light tank. (Youtube screenshot)

According to deagel.com, the VN-17 has a crew of three and weighs about 30 tons. No information is available about the number of dismounted troops it can carry, but other Chinese infantry fighting vehicles in service, like the ZBD04 and ZBD05 carry seven or 10 personnel. Janes noted that the VN-17’s turret is similar to that of the VN-12 infantry fighting vehicle, which according to some sources is an export version of the ZBD04.

While the ZBD04 is lighter, it is reported to have a 100mm main gun, a main weapon similar to that on the Russian BMP-3. Russia’s T-15 Armata infantry fighting vehicle has the Vietnam-era S-60 57mm gun as its primary armament.

IFV turrets can be customized, and many Russian IFVs and armored personnel carriers can be equipped with new turrets featuring a wide variety of weapons.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
A Chinese ZBD-04 infantry fighting vehicle. A new IFV in development is replaces the combined 100mm gun and 30mm cannon turret with an unmanned turret with a 40mm gun. (Chinese Defense Ministry photo)

The United States operates the Stryker family of wheeled armored fighting vehicles using the same concept as the Armata family of vehicles and China’s VT-5/VN-17 combination.

The Stryker family includes an infantry fighting vehicle, a mobile gun system, a mortar carrier, a reconnaissance vehicle, an ambulance, and a command vehicle.

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time the Air Force used bears as ejection seat dummies

On Mar. 21, 1962 a B-58 Hustler from the U.S. Air Force erupted in flames as a large, bright red capsule shot out of it, carrying a passenger to safety. But the passenger wasn’t a pilot, and the plane wasn’t crashing. The event was a test of the B-58’s experimental ejection capsules and the occupant of the capsule was a bear.


 

The Air Force had been struggling to figure out a safe way for pilots to eject at supersonic speeds. Initially, they had tested new ejection seat designs by hiring people they recruited out of unemployment lines to act as test dummies.

The Air Force soon switched to using live animals for the tests, including six bears and a chimpanzee. At first, the bears and other animals tested ejection seats and capsules on rocket sleds. Once the Air Force was relatively sure of the design, they began flying the aircraft and ejecting the animals at altitude.

The animals were given drugs and rigged with sensors before being placed in the ejection capsules.

Most were fine, if a bit loopy, when they landed.

bear
How could you drop something with a face like this out of a plane?

There was one fatality among the animals during testing. One bear had a brain condition that wasn’t detected prior to the flight and the physical strain during the ejection killed the animal. Two other bears suffered minor fractures and bruising during their flights.

Unfortunately, the Air Force needed to be sure that there were no hidden injuries before they returned to human subjects and ordered autopsies, which resulted in the deaths of the animals that had otherwise survived testing.

See the video below:

Today, advanced crash test dummies are used in the testing of military hardware.

h/t Cracked.com and i09.com.

Articles

This cursed Soviet submarine nearly caused a nuclear disaster in the Atlantic Ocean

An old sailor’s myth claims that any ship which fails to break a bottle of champagne during its christening ceremony is cursed forever.


This seemed to be exactly the case with the Soviet ballistic missile submarine K-19, later nicknamed “Hiroshima” by its crew after an accident in 1961 which almost resulted in a nuclear accident which would have rivaled the size and effect of Chernobyl, years later.

If it was any consolation to the horrified sailors who witnessed the champagne bottle bounce intact off the K-19’s stern during its induction ceremony, the sub was already thought to be cursed thanks to the deaths of a number of shipyard workers involved in its construction. Upon its acceptance to the Soviet Navy, its 35-year old captain, Nikolai Zateyev called the ship unfit for service, noting that the USSR’s rush to catch up to American submarine advances had caused the country to cut corners in designing its new vessels.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
K-19 underway in the Atlantic, as seen from a US Navy helicopter. (Photo from US Navy)

Regardless, the K-19 entered into active service and set sail on its maiden voyage in 1961, operating in the North Atlantic below the shipping lanes that crisscrossed the Atlantic. On the 4th of July — while millions of families made their way to parks to barbecue and watch fireworks in the United States — the K-19’s powerplant experienced a leak in its cooling system while the vessel was submerged southeast of Greenland.

In a matter of minutes, the situation worsened when the ship’s twin reactors began heating up uncontrollably.

If something wasn’t done to solve the cooling issue immediately, a nuclear meltdown would have followed, causing untold amounts of radiation to spew over the North Atlantic, and almost certainly travel over into Western Europe or even parts of Canada and the United States.

Zateyev ordered his crew to devise a “jury-rigged” cooling system, using scrounged-up parts and components of the submarine to re-route water into tubes around the reactors. In the meanwhile, members of the crew volunteered to go into the reactor spaces to attempt to fix the system, receiving fatal doses of radiation almost instantaneously.

None of the ship’s engineering crew would survive, and many more died from radiation poisoning in the years after the near-meltdown. Many of these sailors were later buried in lead coffins, quietly and away from the public eye.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
K-19 in distress after a crippling fire in the years following its near nuclear disaster. (Photo Soviet Navy)

According to David Miller in his book “Submarine Disasters,” a distress signal emitted from the K-19 was soon picked up by nearby American warships, whose crew offered to assist the stricken sub and her complement. However, Zateyev, worried about losing his ship to the United States — then the enemy during the height of the Cold War — decided instead to sail towards a nearby Soviet diesel submarine. That linkup allowed the K-19’s crew to offload safely.

In the aftermath of the near-catastrophe, the Soviet Navy sought to downplay the nature of the incident, forcing the crew of the K-19’s 1961 cruise to swear an oath of secrecy; violations would result in a lengthy stay at a gulag.

Nevertheless, a number were still decorated for bravery and their role in preventing what could have been an unmitigated disaster. Zateyev went on to serve in the Soviet Navy for another 25 years, passing away eventually from lung disease. The official report on the condition of the sick sailors stated that they were suffering from a form of mental illness.

That, however, wasn’t the end of K-19’s story. Now widely known throughout the Soviet Navy as “Hiroshima,” the ship was repaired and reentered into active duty.

In 1969, a collision with an American submarine disfigured Hiroshima, ending its patrol prematurely. In the 1970s, the submarine suffered a series of fires that killed 30 sailors and wounded scores more. The K-19 was clearly, by this point, living up to its curse.

The oath inflicted upon the 1961 cruise sailors was lifted after the fall of the Soviet Union, and what was once a closely-guarded secret was told to the world. In 2006, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev made public the courageousness of the crew in a letter to the Nobel Prize committee, nominating the survivors for a Nobel Peace Prize.

K-19 was finally retired from service in 1991 having been active for nearly 30 years, and accumulating hundreds of thousands of miles transiting through the world’s oceans. Instead of preserving the ship as a monument to the men who served aboard her, and had a hand in saving millions from nuclear poisoning, the Russian government elected to dismantle and dispose of the vessel, finally ridding its navy of the cursed ship.

 

MIGHTY HISTORY

This was the average day for an ancient Roman soldier

Today, the modern soldier wakes up, eats chow, goes through a day of training with his or her squad before resting up. They follow this schedule every day from Monday to Friday. If the troop is on a deployment, they could work anywhere from 12 to 18 hours (if not more) per day, seven days a week, for nearly a year.

It’s a tough lifestyle.

Once a troop fulfills their service commitment, they can be honorably discharged or reenlist — the choice is theirs.

Now, let’s rewind time to around 15 C.E. The Roman Empire is thriving and you’re an infantryman serving in the Imperial Roman army under Emperor Tiberius. In many ways, life was quite different for the average sword-wielding soldier when compared to today’s modern troop. In other ways, however, things were very much the same.


The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
A Roman soldier proudly stands in front of his men.

Many young Romans joined the army at the age of 18. Of them, most were poor men with little-to-no life prospects due to being born into a family of low standing. Once they became soldiers, Roman troops had to overcome 36 kilometer (22 miles) marches in full battle rattle.

For these ancient troops, a full loadout consisted of body armor, a gladius (sword), a scutum (shield), and two pilum (spears). This gear weighed upwards of 44 pounds. To add to that weight, troops carried a scarina (backpack), which contained rations and any other tools needed to serve the Roman officers.

At the end of each grueling march, soldiers set up camp to get some rest. Men were assigned to stand watch and look over the others, the gear, and the animals hauling the heavy equipment. Being ambushed in the middle of the night was a constant possibility.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
These Roman troops stand in a defensive position awaitng the enemy to strike.

Like most troops, they feared the unknown. At any given moment, they could encounter a fierce battle, contract sickness from other soldiers or the environment, or be left to endure the elements. It was a consist struggle to survive in a cutthroat world that was all about expanding the Roman Empire.

In their downtime, most men would gamble, play instruments, or talk about future plans. If the soldiers served for their full 25-year commitment, they would receive several acres of land on which to retire — but surviving to the end was considered a longshot.

So, in many ways, the typical Roman infantryman was a lot like the ground pounders of today — only they were stuck in the suck for longer.

MIGHTY HISTORY

An Army vet’s murder was a milestone event of the Civil Rights Movement

Jimmie Lee Jackson was a 26-year-old Army veteran, civil rights activist, and deacon at his Marion, Alabama, church. In February, 1965, Jackson took part in a peaceful nighttime demonstration to protest for his right to vote. As the congregation left the church to march to the local jail just a half block away, a wall of local policer officers and state troopers was waiting for them. As soon as they arrived, someone turned off the streetlights.

In the aftermath of the melee that followed, Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot in the stomach by a state trooper. He died eight days later. His death was the catalyst for Martin Luther King to lead the march from Selma to Montgomery, and set in motion a chain of events, one that includes the infamous “Bloody Sunday” incident on the Edmund Pettis Bridge, that would change American culture forever.


By 1964, Jackson had become an ordained deacon of the St. James Baptist Church of Marion. At this point in his life, he had already joined the Army and saw service in Vietnam. After a short stint in Indiana, he returned to his hometown of Marion where he watched as his 80-year-old grandfather was turned away while trying to register to vote. He eventually joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to help fight for his civil rights.

Three years later, he died in that fight.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions

On the night of Feb. 18, 1965, there were 500 or so people filing out of Marion’s Zion United Methodist Church to make their way to the local jail where a civil rights activist was being held by local police. The SCLC was a nonviolent group, and the demonstrators planned to sing freedom songs as they marched to the jailhouse. They never made it that far. The wall of police officers — state, county, and local — began to tear into the crowd as soon as the lights went out.

They weren’t alone. Angry onlookers joined the crowd, attacking anyone in their path, including other onlookers, journalists, and even patrons of a nearby cafe. It was Mack’s Café just off the city square where state troopers started tearing the place apart, hitting customers and marchers. Lee’s grandfather, Cager, was clubbed, as was his mother, Viola. When Jimmie tried to help his mother to her feet, he was shot in the stomach by Alabama State Trooper James Fowler.

Lee languished in the hospital for eight days, eventually succumbing to his wound. Fowler was not initially charged with any crime, nor was he questioned about Lee. What happened next changed the country forever.

The SCLC decided they would march from Selma, Ala. to the capital at Montgomery to protest the death of Lee and the inequality of life in Alabama, to display their desire to vote, and to demonstrate the need for a Voting Rights Act to pass in Congress. In three attempts over 18 days, protestors attempted to march the 54-mile walk from Selma to Montgomery. The first attempt became infamous after it was attacked by police after crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

One of the organizers became famous for a photo of her beaten body lying wounded on the bridge.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions

The second and third marches were joined by other activist groups and sympathizers from all over the United States who were horrified by the violence inflicted by the state troopers. Led by Dr. Martin Luther King, the second group of marchers turned around before fully crossing the bridge, so as not to violate a court order. The 2,500 people assembled said a prayer before turning back.

The third time, the procession was led by Dr. King with the First Amendment blessing of a federal judge. President Lyndon Johnson federalized the Alabama National Guard and ordered the soldiers to protect the marchers. They did and the procession made it all the way to the a camp site outside of Montgomery, adding more and more marchers along the way.

By the time they reached the state capitol building, the march was 25,000 strong. By August, 1965, President Johnson was signing the Voting Rights Act into law. Fowler, the trooper who shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, was finally convicted of manslaughter for the shooting in 2011.

Articles

This is what makes SWCC crews so lethal

Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman, the “Boat Guys” in all those Navy SEALs photos, are a small and elite bunch of warriors who don’t get nearly enough credit for their contribution to American security.


Here’s what makes the “SEALs Taxi Service” so lethal.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen from Special Boat Team 22 conduct live-fire immediate action drills at the riverine training range at Ft. Knox. (Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger)

First, yes, they have SEALs on the boats. When your payload is Navy SEALs, that’s a pretty big plus in the lethality department.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
U.S. Navy SEALs splash into the water from a combat rubber raiding craft attached to an 11-meter rigid hull infalatble boat, during a capabilities exercise, at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek – Fort Story. (Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Gary L. Johnson III.)

But SWCCs don’t just drop off and pick up SEALs. They also conduct their own missions.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Combatant-craft crews can be sent against enemy shipping and other water traffic to shut down commerce or supply operations.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger)

The SWCC crews keep an eye out for enemy movements or other activity in their domain. If they identify a threat, they can prosecute it themselves or report it up to the deepwater guys for help.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger)

The SWCCs do all of this from some of the world’s most advanced and dangerous small crafts.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matt Daniels)

Their boats are typically well-armed, and SWCCs train extensively on small craft tactics and strategies.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(GIF: YouTube/America’s Navy)

The Navy prefers to deploy SWCC craft in groups so boats can provide fire support to one another.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathan Laird/Released)

But even a single boat brings a lot of firepower.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy M. Black)

Navy SWCCs can launch and recover their vehicles in the well decks of larger ships.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Darren M. Moore)

And some of the boats can even be airdropped into the water for operations. All SWCC operators are static-line parachute qualified so they can jump with their boats.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Of course, jumping after a boat means the operators will land in the water. So they conduct open water swims, sometimes into near-freezing water, to prepare.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
Special Warfare Combatant-craft crewmen finish an open ocean swim, with water and air temperatures hovering below 40 degrees. (Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Tim Miller)

The Navy gets sailors ready for this grueling job by demanding constant and rigorous physical training.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
A Crewman Qualification Training candidate puts on his flippers before swimming in Coronado Bay during a Monster Mash training exercise. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Navy SWCC and SEAL candidates awaiting training are assigned to the Fleet Transition Program to ensure they remain physically capable of becoming elite maritime warriors.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Abe McNatt)

The SWCC training pipeline consists four phases, the two-month Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School, Naval Special Warfare Orientation, Basic Crewman Training, and Crewman Qualification Training.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
Crewman Qualification Training (CQT) candidates hustle to shore during a Monster Mash training exercise. (Photo: U.S Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Scorza).

And the Navy isn’t afraid to recruit potential candidates while they’re still young. Scout teams go into the community to seek out talented individuals who might be interested in a special operations career.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
Chief Petty Officer Joseph Schmidt, assigned to the Navy SEAL and SWCC Scout Team, speaks to San Diego Junior Lifeguard members before a physical training evolution. (Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Pyoung K. Yi)

The Navy has over 700 sailors trained and assigned as SWCCs at a time. This tiny force conducts dangerous and essential missions all over the world.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Richard Miller)

Articles

These wronged WWI vets camped in DC in protest until the president had the Army throw them out

In 1932, over 15,000 veterans and their family members who were camped out near Washington D.C. were forcefully evicted by the Army from the capital grounds and saw their camps burned and children attacked by orders from President Herbert Hoover and Gen. Douglas MacArthur.


The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(Photo: Public Domain)

But why were so many veterans sleeping and marching near the Capitol building?

At the end of World War I, service members who were released from service were given tickets home and small sums of cash, usually about $60. This was roughly equivalent to two months’ pay for a young private or one month’s pay for a sergeant major.

Though this was the traditional severance package for a soldier at that time, many in America felt that it wasn’t a fitting reward for veterans of the “Great War” and public pressure, urged on by veterans organizations like the American Legion, caused Congress to debate bills that would make life easier for veterans.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
After all, World War I soldiers had already had it pretty bad. (Photo: Public Domain)

The first major legislative push began in 1920 with a bill named for House Representative Joseph W. Fordney. The Fordney Bill called for a fund to be established that would allow veterans of World War I to choose between education grants, a cash bonus, or money towards the purchase of a home or farm.

The bill was warmly received by the public, but it’s cost was not. Implementation and payment would have cost 5 billion dollars and the Senate voted against it. The Senate voted against it again in 1921 after anti-Bonus speeches by then-President Warren G. Harding. In 1922, a new version of the bill, absent the options for an education grant or money towards a home or farm, was passed by the House and Senate but vetoed by Harding.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
President Warren G. Harding, seen here not caring if destitute veterans need money. (Photo: Public Domain)

Finally, in 1924 Congress, under pressure from leaders like William Randolph Hearst and organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, passed the World War Adjusted Act of 1924 over President Calvin Coolidge’s veto.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
President Calvin Coolidge seen here also not caring if destitute veterans need money. (Photo: Public Domain)

It was commonly known as the “Bonus Bill” and called for every U.S. veteran of World War I to receive a bonus based on their duration and type of service in World War I.

Veterans would receive a $1 for every day served in the United States and $1.25 for every day served while deployed overseas. Those entitled under the bill to $50 or less could draw their money at any time while others were issued a certificate for their payment which would come due in 1945, nearly 30 years after their wartime service.

Overall, the bill was popular despite the expected $4 billion cost that would be incurred and the long wait for most payments. The debate about a bonus for vets was seemingly over and remained quiet until 1932, almost three years after the Great Depression began.

Veterans hurting for jobs or money began discussing hopes for receiving their payments early. In Portland, Oregon, World War I veteran Walter Waters rallied a group of veterans, and they all jumped onto train cars to ride to Washington.

Radio and news reports tracked their progress towards the capital and more veterans rushed to join them on the trains or meet up with them in the city. The number of veterans who reached the city was estimated at between 15,000 and 20,000 men.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(Photo: Public Domain)

Many Washington elite were initially shocked and frightened by the arrival of the Bonus Army. The wife of Washington Post editor, Evalyn Walsh McLean, visited the camps with her son.

There, she was surprised to find that while the men were dirty, they were also organized and visibly hungry. Some were sleeping on the sidewalks. As she began asking them when they had last eaten, she was approached by retired-Army Brig. Gen. Pelham Glassford, the new superintendent of D.C. police.

The two made a plan to get the men coffee, cigarettes, and sandwiches and began lobbying in support of the veterans. Glassford eventually became so popular with the vets that Camp Glassford was named in his honor.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
(Photo: Library of Congress)

Legislators debated the merits of paying the veterans early. Some argued that the veterans would quickly spend the money and so help re-invigorate the stagnant economy while others, supported by President Hoover, argued that the taxes necessary to raise the money would further slow recovery.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
President Herbert Hoover, seen here not caring if destitute veterans need money and willing to send the Army in to prove it. (Photo: Public Domain)

The House passed a bill supporting early payment but it was soundly defeated in the Senate.

Despite the fact that the camps were well-organized, self-policed, and required all residents to prove that they fought for America in World War I, Washington residents became worried that the veterans were secretly communist or that they would turn violent. The police, over Glassford’s objections, were ordered to evict squatters from the camps.

This led to a small but violent confrontation. Hoover responded by sending in the Army. MacArthur, believing the veterans really were threatening the government, overstepped his orders and launched tear gas attacks, bayonet marches, and cavalry charges into the camps.

Articles

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
USAF special ops training. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)


Possibly one of the most pervasive yet irritating missteps that the media and public in general makes about the military is the use of the terms ‘Special Operations Forces’ (SOF) and Special Forces (SF) interchangeably. In a day and age where special operations units have a growing presence in the media due to the increase of their importance in the asymmetric, non-conventional combat environment that our country has found ourselves in, the mistake has become all too common in headlines on news channels as well as newspapers and magazines. Consider this article a primer for anyone in the media that even remotely cares about their journalistic accuracy, as well as the curious citizen.

Special Operations, or sometimes referred more accurately to as Special Operations Forces, include any unit that falls under the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Naval Special Warfare, Air Force Special Operations Command, Army Special Operations Command, and Marine Special Operations Command are all included under this umbrella. I won’t go further down the ladder and list every unit under those commands, but they cover everything from the 528th Sustainment Brigade and Civil Affairs to the SEAL Teams and Ranger Regiment.

The shadowy Joint Special Operations Command also falls under SOCOM as a sub-unified command but often reports directly to higher authorities due to their unique and often sensitive missions. Who is not covered by the term Special Operations? Anyone who does not fall under the SOCOM umbrella. For example, although Force Recon companies in the Marine Corps are highly trained and undergo a selection process similar to many SOF units, they are not considered Special Operations as they belong to the Marine Corps, not SOCOM.

Now, what about the term “Special Forces”? Special Forces is not a generic term in the U.S. military and refers to a very specific unit. The 1st Special Forces Regiment falls under the command of the Army Special Operations Command (mentioned above) and includes the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 19th, and 20th Special Forces Groups.

They are most often referred to by their distinctive headgear, the Green Beret, or simply as “SF.” The Army’s Special Forces are capable of a wide variety of missions but were designed to be the premiere experts on unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense.

As an example of a classic unconventional warfare mission that happened in recent history, after the terror attacks of 9/11 small elements of the 5th Special Forces Group embedded with indigenous fighters from Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance and lead them into battle. Within a matter of weeks, they had effectively neutralized the Taliban threat – accomplished not with brigades and divisions of soldiers, but with only a couple dozen Special Forces soldiers. This is the capability that the 1st Special Forces Regiment brings to the table, and makes them very unique in the larger SOCOM picture.

To summarize, Special Operations Forces is a generic term that you can use to refer to any and all special operations units. Special Forces is the title of a very specific unit and is not a generic term for other units. If you don’t know what unit did something, refer to them as SOF or Special Operations. If you know for a fact that it was a unit from one of the seven Special Forces Groups, then refer to them as Special Forces.

Simple enough … right?

This article originally appeared at The Havok Journal.

Articles

Here are the best military photos for the week of May 20

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


Air Force:

Air Force pararescuemen with the 58th Rescue Squadron prepare for aerial transport during a personnel recovery scenario at Pond Landing Zone during Angel Thunder 17 in Tucson, Ariz., May 11, 2017. Angel Thunder is a two-week, Air Combat Command-sponsored, joint certified and accredited personnel recovery exercise focused on search and rescue. 

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform the echelon pass in review maneuver during the Wings over Pittsburgh air show May 13, 2017, in Coraopolis, Pa.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Couillard

Army:

A Soldier demonstrates hand-to-hand combat on a “volunteer” from the crowd during the 6th Ranger Training Battalion’s open house event, April 29, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The event was a chance for the public to learn how Rangers train and operate.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.

501st Parachute Infantry Regiment leaders observe as their follow-on paratroopers exit a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster to join in the fight during a Joint Forcible Entry Operation exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 3, 2017. Hundreds of paratroopers jumped from U.S. and Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft in conjunction with the biennial U.S. Air Force Alaska Command exercise Northern Edge.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Love

Navy:

PACIFIC OCEAN (May 16, 2017) Sailors conduct flight operations aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the western Pacific. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific routinely for more than 70 years promoting regional peace and security.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rebecca Sunderland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (May 16, 2017) U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen battle each other in a pugil stick jousting match during the class of 2020 Sea Trials. Sea Trials is a capstone event for the freshman midshipmen, modeled after the Marine Corps’ crucible and the Navy’s Battle Stations.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brianna Jones

Marine Corps:

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, run to the finish line of a circuit course while carrying a simulated patient and ammunition cans around the flight deck of USS Comstock April 24. In order to keep themselves physically, mentally, and operationally fit while on deployment, the Marines with CLB-11 have been conducting squad-level competitions that encompass a wide range of operational skill sets, such as physical fitness sessions, weapons handling drills, and casualty combat care drills.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Devan K. Gowans

Marines with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command await departure during final exercise two as part of Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course 2-17, near Yuma, Arizona, April 27, 2017. This exercise is designed to execute a simulated special operating forces raid while simultaneously supporting regimental combat team objectives and focusing on conducting all six functions of Marine Aviation.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Clare J. Shaffer

Coast Guard:

The newest ensigns in the Coast Guard toss their hats in the air during the 136th Coast Guard Academy commencement exercise in New London, Conn., May 17, 2017. The ceremony was President Donald Trump’s first service academy graduation as commander-in-chief.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft departs the stage following the 136th Coast Guard Academy commencement exercise in New London, Conn., May 17, 2017. The ceremony was the President Donald Trump’s first service academy graduation as commander-in-chief.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions
Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley

MIGHTY HISTORY

A Navy veteran’s show is the reason documentaries are on TV

These days, military documentaries are all over TV. Some are feature-length films and others are TV series. They cover everything, from discussing various weapon systems to describing famous, historical battles. But there was one series that kicked this whole genre off — that was Victory at Sea. The 26-episode limited series was a smash hit that won an Emmy and a Peabody Award. But it wasn’t just award-winning, it was groundbreaking.


According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, Navy veteran Harry Salomon was working with Samuel Eliot Morison to compile what would eventually become the fifteen-volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II when he got the idea to do a TV documentary. In the process, Salomon discovered just how much footage was available — over 11,000 miles of film, shot by all of the warring powers.

Inspired, Salomon talked with his old college roommate, who then worked for NBC. His friend was all for the idea and helped him get the green light for the series in 1951. The United States Navy, coming off the Revolt of the Admirals and fighting the Korean War, agreed to support the venture. NBC offered a $500,000 budget for the series — in 1951 dollars. In today’s money, that’s just under $4.84 million.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions

The series covered all aspects of the sea battles in the Second World War, including the anti-submarine campaign fought by escort carriers like USS Mission Bay (CVE 59)

(US Navy)

Eventually, the 11,000 miles of film was cut down to a grand total 61,000 feet — just over 11.55 miles. Richard Rodgers, best known for his work on Broadway and in Hollywood, composed a stirring score, Leonard Graves signed on to do narration, and the series was underway. All aspects of the conflict were covered, from the chilly Arctic waters to the heated battles in the paradise of the South Pacific.

The first ‘Memphis Belle’ was actually shot down before it completed 25 missions

The stirring soundtrack provided by Richard Rodgers (of Rodgers and Hammerstein fame) comes through, especially when covering dramatic moments, like the kamikaze campaign.

(US Navy)

The 26-episode series made its premiere in October of 1952. NBC aired the series without commercial interruption. It was a huge hit.

Not only did the naval campaigns of the Second World War get exposed to a wider audience, but an entire new TV genre was launched. Today, the series is under public domain and can be seen on YouTube.

Watch the first episode of the show that gave rise to the military documentary genre below!

www.youtube.com

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