This is why 'Hue 1968' is 'Black Hawk Down' for the Vietnam War - We Are The Mighty
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This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War

Mark Bowden is one of the greatest investigative reporters of our age.


“Black Hawk Down,” his exhaustive work on the experience of U.S. troops in Mogadishu, brought renewed attention to the oft-forgotten story. It also resulted in the film, which remains a favorite of the military-veteran community.

His most recent book, “Hué 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam,” is just as exhaustive and compelling. The book is a master work, five years in the making.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Mark Bowden signs books while visiting the U.S. Air Force Academy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Kaplan)

The Battle of Hué was the longest and costliest fight of the entire Tet Offensive. On the morning of Jan. 31, 1968, a coordinated attack from 8,000 North Vietnamese Army Regulars, Viet Cong infiltrators, and Vietnamese civilians quickly captured much of the city in a single night.

American and South Vietnamese troops were woefully outnumbered in Hué. Facing the Communist forces there were the ARVN 1st Infantry Division and 200 of their American and Australian advisors at the MACV compound. By the time the sun came up that day, the Communists controlled the city south of the Huong River – except the MACV compound.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
A view from a Marine machine gun position on the outer Citadel wall of Hué City during the 1968 Tet Offensive.

The Marines from MACV would have to go on the offensive, fighting their way across the river to rescue the brilliant and highly-respected ARVN General Ngô Quang Truong and what remained of his 1st Infantry. Then they had to expel the Communists from the area.

Hué would become a case study in urban combat, the first time since the Korean War the Marines would fight in a city like that. The battle lasted almost a month, turning 40 percent of the city’s buildings to rubble and costing the lives of 380 ARVN troops, 147 Marines, 74 U.S. Army soldiers, 8,000 Communists, and more than 5,800 civilians.

It was also the turning point in American popular support for the war.

Bowden’s book covers the history of the war until that point, especially from 30,000-foot view from the White House and General William Westmoreland’s MACV Headquarters. What’s truly unique and fascinating about Bowden’s style is the personal narratives that drive the history of the story.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara was the architect of early Vietnam War strategy.

“Hué 1968” is a gripping tapestry of nonfiction storytelling, with personal stories of people on the ground woven into the history and politics of the war. The enemy is no longer a nameless, faceless mass of targets; the NVA and VC are characters in the story of the war in Vietnam, with names, families, and lives. With these stories comes the understanding of why the McNamara doctrine of “limited warfare” would never have worked against the Vietnamese.

The book gives the eyewitness account of a young Vietnamese girl who turns on the southern regime and becomes a Viet Cong operative just as much as it follows the junior enlisted Marine radio operator Jim Coolican, who was stationed at the MACV compound. Personal narratives from every side of the conflict continue like this throughout the book.

Bowden traces the details of a young VC as he traverses the Ho Chi Minh trail and moves to infiltrate the city. He even painstakingly documents the “logistics miracle” – as one U.S. Navy captain called it – of the Tet Offensive’s movement of men and weapons into South Vietnam.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
NVA and VC soldiers assault the city of Hué in South Vietnam, January 1968.

If you know the history of the Vietnam War, you know what’s coming in the Tet Offensive and it keeps you turning pages. No matter how familiar you are, you get to see the war from all sides – the NVA, the VC, ARVN leadership, American troops, American leadership, even Ho Chi Minh and North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap’s points of view are covered in remarkable detail.

The fall of Hué was the most successful attack of the entire Tet Offensive and even then the city was retaken by Feb. 24. Both sides bought into their own propaganda. The Communists believed that the South was ready to rise against the despotic Thieu regime and expel the Americans — they just needed a hand to get started.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Viet Cong forces climb on an abandoned U.S.-built Marine Armored Vehicle during the Battle of Hué.

The north came to depend on that uprising for the long-term success of the Offensive. The Americans and South Vietnamese were caught off guard because they thought the enemy was weak and could not launch an attack on that scale, let alone capture a city like Hué.

Until the Tet Offensive, a majority of Americans believed the war was going well and believed government officials who used statistics and body counts to insist that American involvement could soon come to an end. Body counts weren’t the metric used by the Communists. For the north, their success was defined by killing or wounding as many Americans as possible, destroying the ARVN, and inciting a popular uprising in the South.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Marines hold a Viet Cong flag they ripped down from the provincial headquarters in Hué.

The United States claimed a military victory in Hué but Hanoi would never be intimidated by a limited war. The prolonged violence and media bias against the war after the Tet Offensive eroded public support for it as well.

The U.S. began a strategic withdrawal from Vietnam the next year and left completely in 1973. South Vietnam fell to the Communists just two years later. Hué was just the beginning of the end.

Mark Bowden is an award-winning author and correspondent for The Atlantic. He is also a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. Filmmakers Michael Mann and Michael De Luca (who produced the 1995 heist movie “Heat”) purchased the rights to “Hué 1968” and plan to turn the book into a miniseries.

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This Marine made history’s 5th longest sniper kill with a machine gun

Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock III is a legend in both the sniper and Marine Corps communities for a number of reasons.


One of them was a shot he took in 1967. In the book, “Inside the Crosshairs: Snipers in Vietnam,” Army Col. Michael Lee Lanning described it:

Firing from a hillside position using an Unertl 8X scope on a .50-caliber machine gun stabilized by a sandbag-supported M3 tripod, Hathcock engaged a Vietcong pushing a weapon-laden bicycle at 2,500 yards. Hathcock’s first round disabled the bicycle, the second struck the enemy soldier in the chest.

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At the time this was the longest sniper kill in history, and it was made with a machine gun in single shot mode. The record stood until March 2002 when Canadian sniper Master Cpl. Arron Perry beat it. Since then, at least three other snipers have beaten Hathcock’s distance.

View post on imgur.com

Hathcock wasn’t the only sniper to use the M2 instead of a traditional sniper rifle. The weapons had been used as sniper weapons in Korea and Vietnam before, but no one else made a shot at nearly the distance of Hathcock’s.

In fact, Hathcock’s shot beat a record that had stood for nearly 100 years. On June 27, 1874, Buffalo Hunter Billy Dixon killed a Comanche leader during the Second Battle of Adobe Walls from 1,538 yards. But while Dixon was firing at a group of warriors silhouetted against the sky, Hathcock fired against a single target.

Check out WATM’s podcast to hear the author and other veterans discuss the Vietnam War adventures of Carlos Hathcock.

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How to bring down an AT-AT with an A-10

If the Empire ever makes it here from its galaxy far, far away, America is going to be in a tough pickle.


And the Empire has already had a long time to get here. So what would it look like if the Empire landed one of its most feared vehicles — the All Terrain Armored Transport — in the plains of the midwest?

Surely, the Air Force would be hard-pressed to take them out, but here are five strategies that the beloved A-10 should try first:

Strategy 1: Punch out the walker’s teeth

The AT-ATs armor is too thick for firing at it center mass, but aiming at the crew cabin in the “head” will give the A-10 pilots a good chance of hitting the laser turrets mounted around it. These weapons have only light armor and the barrels are largely exposed.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War

This won’t take down the walker entirely, but it would turn it into a stomping reconnaissance tool instead of a lethal, anti-armor and anti-bunker monster.

Strategy 2: Low flying pass to hit the Imperial walker’s fuel slug

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
An A-10 fires an AGM-65 Maverick missile in training. (Photo: Public Domain Jim Haseltine)

 

The walkers use a solid “slug” of fuel kept in a tank in the belly of the beast. This is the same type of fuel that powers starfighters, and everyone knows how spectacularly they blow up.

To hit this tank, the A-10s will need to conduct flights at near ground level and should approach from the walker’s 1, 5, 7, or 11 o’clock to avoid its limited skirt armor. Pilots should launch the TV-guided AGM-65 Maverick missile with its 300-pound, shaped-charge warhead and a delayed fuze.

Even if the missile doesn’t make it to the fuel tank before it explodes, the blast should cut through some of the drive mechanisms for the legs, granting a mobility kill and possibly causing the AT-AT to topple.

Strategy 3: Cripple its feet

Speaking of mobility kills, the AT-AT relies on ankle drive motors and terrain scanners in the “feet” to keep it balanced and moving forward. But the metal supports around these feet aren’t particularly strong.

In at least two occasions, Sith and Jedi have cut the feet off of a walker.

While A-10s don’t have a plasma saber to cut through the leg, the shaped charges in the AGM-65 with a contact fuse could slice deep enough for the remaining support to snap under the massive weight of the AT-AT.

Alternatively, the pilot could fire the Maverick missile against the foot itself in an attempt to cut through the armor to disable the sensors and motors inside, increasing the chances that the foot will trip on the terrain, similar to the effect in the GIF above.

Strategy 4: Wait for it to discharge troops and fill it with 30mm

 

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
(Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Chris Drzazgowski)

 

The AT-AT is a troop transport, and patient A-10 pilots could wait for it to attempt and discharge its stormtroopers and speeder bikes. When the walker opens to release its deadly cargo, pilots would have only a short window to attack through the open armor panels.

This is a job for the GAU-8 Avenger. Pilots should fire a sustained stream of 30mm through the opening. Don’t get shy, the crew compartment is connected to the transport area only through a thin tunnel. Even with high-explosive rounds, the A-10 needs to get a lot of ammo into the troop transport section to guarantee that at least a few bits of shrapnel bounce through the cabin.

Strategy 5: Cut its head off

In the Battle of Hoth, snow speeders managed to get a mobility kill on an AT-AT by wrapping its legs up in a tow cable. Before the walker crew could escape, a flight of snow speeders fired on the AT-AT’s flexible neck section, the tunnel between the crew cabin and the troop transport area.

Just two blasts to the neck section set off a massive explosion that destroyed the walker and rained debris for hundreds of meters. While it isn’t known what in the neck caused the massive, second detonation, there’s no reason to think that an A-10’s GAU-8 Avenger couldn’t punch through this vulnerable section.

To hit it, pilots should conduct nearly vertical attacks from high altitude, sending the 30mm rounds into the neck joint perpendicular to the armor.

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US practices D-Day-like landing in Latvia amid Russia tensions

U.S. Marines engaged in a mock beach landing in the Baltics on June 6 in a scene reminiscent of the D-Day landings of World War II.


The drill took place as part of NATO’s Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), an annual exercise involving approximately 6,000 troops that runs from June 1 to 16. The drill, which took place on a beach in Latvia, is a key component of the exercise which aims to project NATO power from sea at a time when the Russian threat to the Baltics has taken a drastic increase.

“What we want to do is practice and demonstrate the ability to deliver sea control and power projection at and from the sea,” said U.S. Navy Adm. Christopher Grady, Joint Force Maritime Component Commander Europe.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
U.S. Marines land in the Baltics for BALTOPS 17. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ricardo Davila/Released)

Reserve Marines from Texas deployed from the the USS Arlington, an amphibious landing transport, onto the beach with various landing craft. The drill was conducted on the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War II, the largest amphibious invasion in modern history.

The Latvian landing was significantly smaller in scope than the multiple landings on D-Day, but both operations involved a combination of air, maritime and land forces. BALTOPS, like D-Day, is also multinational, with 14 nations participating in various drills.

BALTOPS has been recurring since 1972, but this year’s event comes at a time when NATO’s tensions with Russia are at their highest since the end of the Cold War. The ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s aggressive rhetoric has Balkan countries concerned they could be the next target.

They’re scared to death of Russia,” said Gen. Raymond Thomas, head of U.S. Special Operations Command in January. “They are very open about that. They’re desperate for our leadership.”

The U.S. sent a detachment of special operations forces to the Baltics in January in order to help train local forces.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Marines participate in BALTOPS 17. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ricardo Davila/Released)

Russian forces could reach the capitals of both Latvia and neighboring Estonia in less than 60 hours, according to an assessment by the RAND corporation, even with a week’s notice. Latvia has approximately 4,450 active ground troops, while all three Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) have only around 15,750 between them. Estonia can also activate the 16,000 paramilitary troops in the Estonian Defense League, while Lithuania has around 10,000 militia members in the Lithuanian Rifleman’s Union.

NATO also has rotating forces throughout the Baltic region, but RAND’s assessment noted that they may not be enough to stave off a Russian attack.

“Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad,” noted the report.

Fortunately for the Baltics, President Donald Trump has noted he is “absolutely committed” to the collective defense of NATO, a stark change from his previously doubtful outlook on alliance.

 

 

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The crazy way subs used to communicate

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Ferrer Dalmau


In the early 1900s the navies of the world were quickly expanding their submarine fleets and with them the technology that they used to fight.

One problem submarines faced as they matured was how to communicate underwater. Radio communication was only a couple decades old and radio waves barely transmit underwater. To allow submarines to communicate with naval forts, each other, and surface vessels, the U.S. Navy tested an improvised “violin” for submarines that allowed communication at ranges of up to five miles.

The violins had a single string stretched between two large, metal rods connected to the hull of the submarine. A wheel with a rough edges spun in close proximity to the string. A Morse-code operator could tap a button that pressed the spinning wheel to the string, sending a vibration through the string, the rods, and then the submarine hull itself. This vibration would continue through the water to underwater microphones on ships and coastal installations. The tests began in 1913 with three violins being installed on three ships. There’s no sign that these violins were ever used in combat.

Today, submarines and sub killers hunt using sonar, so sound-emitting devices like the submarine violin would be too dangerous to use. Instead, modern subs use specialized antennas and very low frequency radio waves to communicate.

NOW: Here’s what life is like aboard the largest US Navy submarine

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This Army veteran uses powerful images to show the realities of war

After serving in Iraq, Army veteran Casey Tylek created a Tumblr blog that helps veterans during the transition to civilian life.


Tylek said he was inspired to begin the page, called justWarthings, after feeling disconnected from his peers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst because of his military experience.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Photo: justWarthings

“At the beginning of every semester it was always the same thing,” Tylek told We Are The Mighty. “Kids would ask if I was in ROTC or was a veteran, and [about] what I did and where I was. Without fail, a student who [had] just met me would ask with wide eyes and a big smile if I killed anyone. I didn’t know how to respond.”

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Photo: justWarthings

In his view, most students — having seen popular movies and video games like “Black Hawk Down” and “Call of Duty” — expected to hear a yes from Tylek, who served in Baghdad with the 101st Airborne Division in 2009.

“They view our soldiers [as] robotic killing machines who are untouchable in combat,” Tylek said. “And they want that to be you so they can ask all the gory details and raise you to hero status in their minds.”

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Photo: justWarthings

justWarthings is modeled after the viral internet page justgirlythings, another Tumblr blog that uses stock photos and overlayed text to communicate themes that are supposedly universal to teenage girls. After his own experience in combat, Tylek realized how unrealistic civilian views of warfare can be, and he decided his blog could provide a wake-up call.

“I hope people see what war really is — a massive waste of life and resources — a messy, scary, horrific thing,” Tylek said. “And yet, I hope they see a little about why we do it, the bond that we have with our fellow soldiers is a lot of times closer than the bond that we have with our own families.”

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Photo: justWarthings

Tylek also told WATM that he created the blog in memory of his best friend, Spc. Joe Kenny, who died while serving in Mosul.

Check out more of the powerful collection of images from justWarthings:

 

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Photo: justWarthings

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Photo: justWarthings

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Photo: justWarthings

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Photo: justWarthings

For more of Tylek’s work, check out justWarthings

NOW:  William Shatner is traveling the US on a crazy-looking motorcycle to promote vets

OR: Brad Pitt is starring as Gen. Stanley McChrystal in ‘War Machine’

MIGHTY MOVIES

How The Punisher’s tactics just keep getting better and better

The Punisher is one of Marvel fans’ all-time favorite antiheroes, giving the corrupt and twisted what they have coming to them. When The Punisher first showed up in comics, Frank Castle was more of a run-and-gun crazy lunatic. But as Castle evolved, so did The Punisher’s tactics.


Early iterations of the character fell into some common Hollywood traps, though.

The film Punisher War Zone was almost near-complete adaptation of The Punisher comics. The film employed crazy, off-the-wall action and run-and-gun tactics — we all know the famous image of Punisher and his two uzis. Though the movie captured The Punisher’s persona, it fell short of its military fans’ expectations.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Always with the dual wield.

In 2004’s The Punisherwe saw a more tactical side of Frank Castle. Using a bow to take out opponent after opponent was far more interesting than shooting up a room full of bad guys. This idea kept up with how a special operator would actually work: swiftly, silently, and deadly.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Even the Punisher can’t shoot two of these at once.

This brings us to the Netflix original series, The Punisher. After watching Daredevil for two seasons, I was so excited The Punisher was getting his own show. Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of Frank Castle was masterful. He clearly knows that many fans of The Punisher are those with ties to the military.

In this first season, we see a modern Punisher setting up improvised explosive devices, placing weapons all around his place of residency, and using shoot-and-move tactics. There is a saying, “movement without shooting is suicide, shooting without movement is a waste of ammo.” How Frank Castle moves with each weapon embodies this expression, showing a level of detail that films typically only mimic.

When Frank Castle explained that he’d rather have a knife than a pistol in certain situations, it had some very sound tactical advice behind it — and made for some really intense action sequences.

The new The Punisher series on Netflix is a good show to binge watch. They took the time to get the tactical concepts right — something refreshing to finally see on-screen.

The major downfall, however, comes when Frank barks and yells. In combat, information is key, so noise discipline is necessary. Barking and loosing a war cry works in some cases, but not every time.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
At least he’s not trying to kill Wolverine with a gun, though.

So far, Netflix has done a great job of not making Frank Castle feel so “Hollywood,” making many Marine fans of The Punisher quite happy and ready to move on to the next season.

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Watch actual footage from the first Apache strikes of Desert Storm

On January 17, 1991, seven months after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded and tried to annex neighboring Kuwait, the world decided it had enough. Operation Desert Storm was launched that day, and Saddam was smacked down by a coalition of 39 countries.


Conducting this epic assault required bringing in Western airpower to destroy Hussein’s formidable armored corps of over 4,000 tanks. To open the way for other planes and choppers, eight Apaches and two Pave Low helicopters flew to Iraqi air defense sites and unleashed dozens of Hellfire missiles.

The sites and their operators were destroyed by the onslaught. See actual footage from the raid in this video from the Smithsonian Channel.

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This secret World War II raid kept the Germans from getting nukes

Just before midnight on Feb. 27, 1943, a team of 10 Norwegian commandos crouched in the snow on a mountain plateau and stared at a seemingly unassailable target. It was a power plant and factory being used by the Nazis to create heavy water, a key component for Germany’s plans of developing nuclear reactors and a nuclear bomb.


This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Photo: Wikipedia

The Norsk Hydro plant was surrounded by a ravine 656 feet deep with only one heavily-guarded bridge crossing it. Just past the ravine were two fences and the whole area was expected to be mined. On the factory grounds, German soldiers lived in barracks and walked patrols at all hours.

As a bonus, the whole area was covered by a thick layer of snow and the men were facing two causes of exhaustion. Six of the men were worn out from five days of marching through snow storms after they were dropped 18 miles from their planned drop zone. The other four men were survivors of an earlier, failed mission against the plant. They had survived for months in the mountains on only lichen and a single reindeer.

Still, to keep the Germans from developing the atom bomb, they attacked the plant on Feb. 28. The radio operator stayed on the plateau while the other nine climbed down the ravine, crossed an icy river, and climbed the far side soaking wet.

Once at the fence, a covering party of four men kept watch as the five members of the demolition party breached the first and then second fence lines with bolt cutters. The men — wearing British Army uniforms and carrying Tommy guns and chloroform-soaked rags — arrived at the target building.

Unfortunately, a door that was supposed to be left open by an inside man was closed. The team would later learn that the man had been too sick to go to work that day. Plan B was finding a narrow cable shaft and shimmying through it with bags of explosives. The covering party provided security while the demolition team split into two pairs, each searching for the entrance.

Lt. Joachim Ronneberg and Sgt. Frederik Kayser were the first to find the shaft. When they couldn’t immediately find the other pair in the darkness, they proceeded down the shaft alone and pushed their explosives ahead of them.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
A historical display showing the Norwegian saboteurs planting explosives on the water cylinders. The mannequin in the back represents the night watchman. (Photo: Wikipedia/Hallvard Straume)

They dropped into the basement of the factory and rushed the night watchman. Kayser covered the man with his gun and Ronneberg placed the explosives on the cylinders that held the heavy water produced in the plant.

Suddenly, a window shattered inward. Kayser swung his weapon to cover the opening but was pleased to find it was only the other demolition pair, Lt. Kasper Idland and Sgt. Birger Stromsheim. They had been unable to find the shaft and were unaware that the others were inside. To ensure the mission succeeded, they had risked the noise of the breaking window to get at the cylinders.

Idland pulled watch outside while Ronneberg and Stromsheim rushed to finish placing the explosives. Worried that German guards may have heard the noise, they cut the two-minute fuses down to thirty seconds.

Just before they lit the fuses, the saboteurs were interrupted by the night watchman. He asked for his glasses, saying that they would be very challenging to replace due to wartime rationing. The commandos searched the desk, found the spectacles, and handed them to the man. As Ronneberg again went to light the fuses, footsteps approached from the hall.

Luckily, it wasn’t a guard. Another Norwegian civilian walked in but then nearly fell out of the room when he saw the commandos in their British Army fatigues.

Kayser covered the two civilians with his weapon and Ronneberg finally lit the 30-second fuses. Kayser released the men after 10 seconds and the commandos rushed out behind them. Soon after they cleared the cellar door, the explosives detonated.

Jens Poulsson, a saboteur on the mission, later said, “It sounded like two or three cars crashing in Piccadilly Circus,” according to a PBS article.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Cylinders similar to the ones destroyed at Norsk Hydro. Photo: flickr/martin_vmorris

The cylinders were successfully destroyed, emptying months worth of heavy water production onto the floors and down drains where it would be irrecoverable.

The teams tried to escape the factory but a German guard approached them while investigating the noise. He was moving slowly in the direction of a Norwegian’s hiding spot, his flashlight missing one of the escaping men by only a few inches. Luckily, a heavy wind covered the noise of the Norwegian’s breathing and dispersed the clouds of his breath. The guard turned back to his hut without catching sight of anyone.

The team left the plant and began a treacherous, 250-mile escape on skis into Sweden, slipping through Nazi search parties the entire way.

Germany did repair the facility within a few months and resumed heavy water production. After increased attacks from Allied bombers, the Germans attempted to move this new heavy water back to Germany but a team of Norwegian saboteurs successfully sunk the ferry it was transported in. One man, Knut Haukelid, participated in both the factory and the ferry sabotage missions.

Hydro-Norsk-norwegian-heavy-water-production-facility-raid The SF Hydro, a ferry that was destroyed by saboteurs when the Nazis attempted to move heavy water with it. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Germany’s shortage of good nuclear material during the war slowed its research efforts to a crawl. This shortage and the German’s prioritization of nuclear reactors over nuclear bombs resulted in Nazi Germany never developing atomic weapons.

NOW: This top secret operation was the World War II version of ‘Weekend At Bernie’s”

OR: This top-secret green beret unit quietly won the Cold War

Lists

5 questions we have after watching ‘Full Metal Jacket’

In 1987, Warner Brothers released Full Metal Jacket, a film that follows a young Marine as he endures the hardships of basic training and gets thrust immediately into the brutality of the Vietnam War.

This film, which is hailed as one of history’s most powerful, is a hit especially among service members. As with any movie, questions pop up into our minds as the story plays out and we’re left wondering long after the credits roll. Since it’s very doubtful the film will ever get a sequel, let’s talk about a few questions that we don’t think the movie ever answered.


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The jelly donut

One of the most iconic screw-ups that Pvt. Pyle committed in the first act of the film involved a certain pastry. He got busted for having a freakin’ jelly donut in an unlocked footlocker. We can’t help but wonder how the hell Pyle was able to sneak the jelly donut into the open squad bay and not smash it in the process? Every uniform they wear in the boot camp scenes is pretty skin tight. So, how did Pyle do it?

We all know that jelly squirts out of those suckers after just one nibble! On a lighter note, aren’t you in the mood for a jelly donut now?

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What happened with the murder-suicide case?

It’s no secret that Pvt. Pyle put a hot one into Gunny Hartman’s chest before swallowing the next round in the magazine. This murder-suicide is a huge plot point in the film, but Joker never brings this back up as the story continues.

Does Joker not talk about it moving forward because of a mental block, or perhaps a resulting stress syndrome?

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What’s the consequence of getting your G.I.-issued camera stolen?

Remember that epic scene where Rafterman’s camera gets ripped out of his hands and stolen?

Why didn’t the two Marines get in trouble for letting that G.I.-issued camera get away? Service members are always held accountable for their gear, but I guess the Marine Corps took exception to their dilemma?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra42Rf2BA4Y

youtu.be

Joker becomes a machine-gunner during the Tet Offensive?

We understand wanting to make your protagonists look as badass as possible. However, when the Marines start to take incoming fire during the Tet Offensive, the grunts dash ahead and we see Joker get inside of a bunker, place an ammo belt into an M60 machine gun, and send rounds downrange, killing the enemy. We’re curious where a Stars and Stripes reporter, like Joker, got the machine-gun in the first place? Are we to assume that the whole Marine base in Da Nang was short of machine-gunners, causing him to take up arms? If that’s the case, then belay our last.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iH5R4tgGdDk

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Why was Animal Mother so angry when Joker and Rafterman showed up?

One of the best scenes in the film is when Joker and Cowboy meet up and share a brother-to-brother moment. Then, once Cowboy introduces Joker to his squad, Animal Mother comes up and verbally attacks the reporters — which was hilarious.

What we don’t understand is why was he being such a dick? We understand that grunts don’t get along with POGs, but was this sh*t-talking banter just to showcase Animal Mother’s quick temper? This rivalry doesn’t carry over to any other scenes, after all.

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These are weird Navy traditions and their meanings

A recent Navy Times article notes that the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) joined the “Order of the Blue Nose” — a distinction reserved for ships and crew that crossing the Arctic Circle.


Most people have not heard of such a mystical Navy order, and there are others that are equally shrouded in seafaring lore, according to a list maintained by the Naval History and Heritage Command.

That list includes both well-known orders and not-so-well known orders. They are for notable feats — and in some cases, dubious ones.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Command Master Chief of aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) Spike Call plays the role of King Neptune during a crossing the line ceremony aboard the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Clemente A. Lynch/Released)

Perhaps the most well-known is the “Order of the Shellback,” given to those sailors who have crossed the equator. The “Crossing the Line” ceremony has been portrayed both in the PBS documentary series “Carrier,” as well as being the plot point for an episode of “JAG” in the 1990s.

But there is more than one kind of shellback.

If you cross the equator at the International Date Line (about 900 miles east of Nauru), you become a “Golden Shellback” (since those who cross the International Date Line are called Golden Dragons).

If you cross the equator at the Prime Meridian (a position about 460 miles to the west of Sao Tome and Principe), you become an “Emerald Shellback.”

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC 913) line up on the flight deck and make sounds like a whale to call to the whales as part of their shellback ceremony. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by OS3 Vicente Arechiga)

Now, we can move to some lesser-known, and even dubious orders.

The “Order of the Caterpillar” is awarded to anyone who has to leave a plane on the spur of the moment due to the plane being unable to continue flying. You even get a golden caterpillar pin.

The eyes of the caterpillar will then explain the circumstances of said departure. The Naval History and Heritage Command, for instance, notes that ruby red eyes denote a midair collision.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War

Then, there is the becoming a member of the “Goldfish Club.” That involves spending time in a life raft. If you’re in the raft for more than 24 hours, you become a “Sea Squatter.”

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War

Using the Panama Canal makes you a member of the “Order of the Ditch.”

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War

Oh, and in case you are wondering, crossing the Antarctic Circle makes you a “Red Nose.”

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It looks like the Saudis are going to get their new US smart bombs after all

The US Senate on June 13 narrowly averted a bid by a bipartisan group of senators to block President Donald Trump’s $500m sale of guided, air-to-ground bombs for use in Yemen by Saudi Arabia’s Royal Air Force.


The vote was 53-47 to defeat a resolution of disapproval that had been offered by Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, and Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat. Senate Republicans were joined by five Democrats to defeat the measure. Four Republicans joined most Democrats to vote against the arms sale.

“We are fueling an arms race in the Middle East,” Paul said in remarks during Senate debate, citing the famine and Cholera outbreak in Yemen and Saudi domestic rights abuses as reasons not to support Trump’s munitions sale.

What is happening today in Yemen is a humanitarian crisis,” Murphy said in floor remarks. “The United States supports the Saudi-led bombing campaign that has had the effect of causing a humanitarian nightmare to play out in that country.”

At issue are JDAMs, or Joint Direct Attack Munitions, which are guidance systems to be used with 230kg bombs and bunker busters on Saudi F-15 fighter jets.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis meets with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 19, 2017. (DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

President Barack Obama withheld sale of the guidance systems in 2016 out of concern the Saudis were deliberately attacking civilians and critical infrastructure in Yemen, already one of the world’s poorest nations before the war.

Speaking for majority Republicans, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina blamed military threats posed by Iran.

The Iranian theocracy is the most destabilizing force in the Mideast,” Graham said. “They have aggressively pursued military action through proxies and directly been involved in military action in Syria. Iran’s efforts to dominate Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and now Yemen have to be pushed back.”

More than 4,125 civilians have been killed and more than 7,200 civilians have been wounded in Yemen since the Saudi-led air campaign started in March 2015, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch.  Most of those casualties resulted from Saudi coalition air strikes.

The June 13 Senate vote was close enough and the outcome sufficiently uncertain that Vice President Mike Pence was briefly called to the chamber to break a tie had there been one, a rare occurrence. Republicans hold a 52-48 advantage in the Senate.

Though largely symbolic, the close vote signals a potential shift in congressional willingness to support Saudi Arabia’s ongoing campaign in Yemen. By comparison, a similar resolution last year attempting to block tank sales by Obama failed by a 71-27 margin.

The disputed sale of guided missiles is a small part of a major, $110B package of arms, including M1 tanks, Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters – arranged by Trump on his May 20 visit to Riyadh. There’s been no real move in Congress to challenge that larger transfer, begun under Obama following the Iran-United Nations nuclear deal.

Under the Arms Control Act of 1976, Congress requires presidents to notify it of any pending arms sale, and in the case of sales to the Middle East to certify that any shipments would not adversely affect Israel’s qualitative military advantage over its regional neighbors. Congress can block any arms sale simply by passing a resolution of disapproval.

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Here are the US targets North Korea most likely wants to nuke

North Korea launched its longest-range, most capable missile ever on July 28, and experts say that all of the US, besides Florida, now lies within range of a nuclear attack from Kim Jong Un.


Fortunately, unlike an attack from a nuclear peer state like Russia, North Korea’s less-advanced missiles would only be expected to hit a few key targets in the US. And even that limited attack would still take North Korea years to prepare, since it still needs to perfect its missiles engines with more tests, in addition to guidance systems. It also needs to build and deploy enough of them to survive US missile defenses.

But a North Korean propaganda photo from 2013 showing Kim Jong Un reviewing documents before a missile launch (pictured below) may have inadvertently leaked the planned targets for a nuclear attack on the US. On the wall besides Kim and his men, there’s a map with lines pointing towards some militarily significant locations.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
Photo from Rodong Sinmun.

In Hawaii, one of the closest targets to North Korea, the US military bases Pacific Command, which is in charge of all US military units in the region.

San Diego is PACOM’s home port, where many of the US Navy ships that would respond to a North Korean attack base when not deployed.

Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana holds the US Air Force’s Global Strike Command, the entity that would be responsible for firing back with the US’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Washington D.C., of course, is the home of the US’s commander-in-chief, who must approve of nuclear orders.

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War
An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM launches during an operational test Feb. 20, 2016, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. USAF photo by Senior Airman Kyla Gifford)

All in all, the targets selected by North Korea demonstrate a knowledge of the US’s nuclear command and control, but as they come from a propaganda image, they should be taken with a grain of salt.

North Korea has developed nuclear weapons as a means of regime security, according to more than a dozen experts interviewed by Business Insider. If Kim ever shot a nuclear-armed missile the US’s way, before the missiles even landed, US satellites in space would spot the attack and the president would order a return fire likely before the first shots even landed.

As unique as Kim is among world leaders, he must know a swift disposal awaits him if he ever engages in a nuclear confrontation.