That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero - We Are The Mighty
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That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

It’s not every day that the mild-mannered janitor at your school turns out to be a bad ass Medal of Honor recipient. But that was exactly the case for thousands of cadets at the United States Air Force Academy.


The story starts in Italy in 1943. Pvt. William Crawford was serving as a scout in I Company, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, as it fought its way up the Italian peninsula.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
The U.S. Navy tank landing ship LST-1, landing U.S. Army troops on an Italian beach, circa September 1943. (National Archives photo)

After landing at Salerno, Crawford’s unit was advancing against stiff German resistance. Just four days after the landings, I Company launched an attack against Hill 424. Once his platoon gained the crest, they became pinned down by intense German machine gun fire.

Ignoring the hail of bullets, Crawford advanced on the German position and silenced it with a hand grenade.

When his platoon was once again pinned down, Crawford didn’t hesitate to charge forward, this time to destroy two machine gun emplacements.

He first attacked the machine gun to the left and destroyed it and the crew with a hand grenade. He then worked his way to the next machine gun under intense fire. When he was in range he again tossed a hand grenade that sent the crew running.

Also read: World War II veteran gets Bronze Star after 73 years

He then manned their own machine gun and mowed down the retreating Germans, allowing his unit to continue the advance.

Crawford was recommended for the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

Later during the intense fighting in Italy, the Germans captured Crawford. His status was listed as missing, presumed dead.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

When his Medal of Honor was approved in 1944, it was presented to his father, posthumously.

However, Crawford had in fact survived and in 1945 was liberated from a German POW camp by advancing Allied forces.

Crawford was discharged after the war and returned home before marrying in 1946. He decided to reenlist in 1947 and served another 20 years before retiring with the rank of Master Sergeant in 1967.

His next career move would prove fateful. He took a position as a janitor at the Air Force Academy in his home state of Colorado.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
Air Force Academy Chapel in the winter (U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Kaplan)

Despite his courage in combat, Crawford had always been rather mild-mannered and didn’t care much to talk about himself. As such, the cadets at the Academy paid him no mind, assuming he was just any other janitor.

Crawford carried on his duties until 1976 when one cadet, James Moschgat, noticed a picture in a history book about World War II.

Moschgat couldn’t believe what he was seeing and showed the picture to his roommate saying, “I think Bill our janitor is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.”

The next day Moschgat and his roommate confronted Crawford to ask if it was truly him that was talked about in the book. According to Moschgat’s account Crawford simply looked at the picture and replied, “Yep, that’s me.”

More heroism: 3 heroes who became POWs twice

Astonished by what they had just learned, they quickly asked why he had never mentioned it before. Crawford’s reply once again showed his humility. He simply said, “That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago.”

Word quickly spread around campus that there was a Medal of Honor recipient in their midst.

The story could have easily ended here with a known recipient of the Medal of Honor working as a janitor at the Air Force Academy. Most people would have never heard the story.

However, the cadets weren’t done.

They eventually found out that because of the circumstances, mainly that Crawford was a POW at the time, he had never had a formal ceremony to present him with his medal.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
U.S. Air Force Academy graduation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

So, when the Class of 1984 reached graduation they invited Crawford as their special guest. And they had a special surprise in store for him. President Ronald Reagan was giving the commencement speech at the Academy that year.

After his commencement speech President Reagan gave Crawford a long overdue honor and presented him with the Medal of Honor.

The encounter with Crawford had so touched Moschgat that he would later reflect on the event by writing an article titled “Leadership and the Janitor” for the USO magazine On Patrol.

In the article he details ten important lessons about leadership that he learned from his meeting of Bill Crawford.

Moschgat retired from the Air Force as a Colonel. Crawford lived out his days in Colorado where he was also famous for being one of four Medal of Honor recipients from the small town of Pueblo, CO.

He passed away in 2000 at the age of 81.

MIGHTY FIT

The White House Chef does 2,222 pushups a day for veterans

There’s only one person aside from the Secret Service who brings guns to the White House every day. That would be Chef Andre Rush, who can be found in the gym when he’s not cooking up a storm for the leader of the free world. As you can imagine, his fitness routine is heavy on arm work and (of course) his diet.


Rush not only tends to his biceps with what some might consider an excessive amount of curls, he also pumps up with the 22 Pushup Challenge every weekday, his part in raising awareness of the estimated 22 military veterans who die from suicide every day. Only, Andre Rush doesn’t just do 22. He does 2,222 pushups on top of his 72-hour rotating isolation schedule. Chef Rush is himself a military veteran who served in the Army before he ended up in the White House kitchen. He has served supper to Presidents Clinton, Bush 43, Obama, and now Trump – and their families, of course.

Food is still, thankfully, bipartisan.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

Rush joined the Army as a cook in 1994. His military career took him through culinary training before he started serving the goods at the Pentagon, and eventually, the White House. He retired only 18 months ago. He still works as a consultant for the White House.

“The camaraderie among the chefs reminded me of hanging out with my friends back in Mississippi, and I got tired of being serious and being out in the field 24/7,” he told Men’s Health Magazine. “Plus, I just love to eat!”

A diet for this force of a man consists of 12-24 hard-boiled eggs, only two of which are whole eggs. For the rest, he eats only the whites. He also downs his own peanut butter protein shake with blended quinoa and nonfat milk. For the rest of his training meals, he eats greek yogurt, oatmeal, and lean turkey – at the gym. He snacks on the turkey in the gym. For his afternoon meals, he consumes four roasted chickens.

If you’re interested in Chef Andre Rush’s workout routine, you can find it on Men’s Health Magazine’s website. For more about the 22 Pushup Challenge for veterans, check out the routine on the Active Heroes website.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The top Marine officer thinks the Corps needs to be more unpredictable and that it needs the ‘Lightning carrier’ to do it

The Marine Corps wants to overhaul its force to prepare to be more dispersed and more flexible to deter and, if need be, take on China’s growing military in the Pacific.


“China has moved out to sea, and they have long-range weapons and a lot of them,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said on February 11 at an Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition event on Capitol Hill.

“Those two things have changed the game,” Berger added. “Take those away, in other words, we could keep operating with dominance everywhere we wanted to, as we have. We cannot do that. We can’t get stuck in old things. We are being challenged everywhere.”

Since taking over last summer, Berger has called for a shift from a force suited for fighting insurgencies to one that can square off with China across the Pacific.

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Thirteen US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aboard the USS America.

US Navy/MCS 3rd Class Chad Swysgood

What Berger has outlined is a lighter, more mobile force that can operate in small units on Pacific islands. But the amphibious force that will support those units is not where it needs to be, Berger said last week.

That may mean the Corps needs new ships in the future, but he said it also needed to make better use of its current assets, which is where the “Lightning carrier” — an amphibious assault ship decked out with 16 to 20 F-35B stealth fighters — comes in.

“I’m in favor of things like the Lightning-carrier concept because I believe we need to tactically and operationally be … unpredictable,” Berger said. “We’ve been sending out every [Amphibious Ready Group] and [Marine Expeditionary Unit] looking mirror-image for 20 years. We need to change that.”

“You would like to see one of those big decks one time go out with two squadrons of F-35s and next time fully loaded with MV-22s and another MEU with a 50-50 combo. Now that’s how you become unpredictable. How do you defend against that?” Berger added.

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The USS Wasp with a heavy F-35 configuration.

US Navy/USS Wasp/Facebook

‘A force multiplier’

The Lightning carrier’s nontraditional configuration is “a force multiplier,” the Corps said in its 2017 aviation plan.

In his commandant’s planning guidance issued in July, Berger said the Corps would “consider employment models of the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG)/MEU other than the traditional three-ship model” and that he saw “potential in the ‘Lightning Carrier’ concept” based on Wasp-class landing-helicopter-dock ships and the newer America-class amphibious assault ships.

The USS Wasp exercised in the South China Sea in spring with 10 F-35Bs aboard, more than it would normally carry.

In October, the USS America sailed into the eastern Pacific with 13 F-35Bs embarked — a first for the America that “signaled the birth of the most lethal, aviation-capable amphibious assault ship to date,” the Corps said.

The Lightning-carrier configuration gives the Marine Air-Ground Task Force aviation element “more of a strike mindset with 12 or more jets that give the fleet or MAGTF commander the ability to better influence the enemy at range,” Lt. Col. John Dirk, a Marine attack-squadron commander aboard the America, said at the time.

In October, then-Navy Secretary Richard Spencer touted the concept as a way to augment the fleet at a time when the Navy is pondering the future of its own carriers.

“You might see us do that in the near future,” Spencer said. “We might just launch it out once, just to try it out, put it in a couple of exercises and know that we have it up our sleeve.”

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The USS Wasp in the South China Sea.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker

More ships, more deterrence

Even with the Lightning carrier, more needs to be done, Berger said on Capitol Hill.

“I think our … amphibious fleet has great capability. It is not enough for 2030. It’s not enough for 2025,” he said.

“We need the big decks, absolutely. We need the LPD-17. That is the mothership, the quarterback in the middle,” Berger said, referring to the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, the “functional replacement” for more than 41 other amphibious ships. Eleven are in active service, and the Navy plans to buy one in 2021.

“We need a light amphibious force ship, a lot of them, that we don’t have today,” Berger added.

When asked by Military.com, Berger declined to say how many Marines and aircraft those light amphibious ships could carry or whether they would be in the Navy’s new force-structure assessment, which is still being finalized. The Corps is also conducting its own force redesign, which Berger said would be released within the next month.

Berger also said he thought there was a role for the littoral combat ship, four of which the Navy plans to decommission in 2021, and the Navy’s future frigate.

“We cannot put anything on the side right now, not with your adversary building to north of 400” ships, he said, referring to Chinese naval expansion.

“The ships that we have, we need to increase the survivability of them, increase the command-and-control capability of them, arm them where we need to,” Berger added.

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The USS Wasp.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker

Berger and Rep. Mike Gallagher, who also spoke at the Capitol Hill event, both emphasized deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region, and both said that would depend on forces that are stationed forward and dispersed.

The Pentagon is “struggling to figure out how do we do deterrence by denial in Indo-Pacom. How do we deny potential adversaries their objectives in the first place, rather than rolling them back after the fact? That hinges on having forward forces,” said Gallagher, a former Marine officer and a member of the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee.

The challenge is “to develop an entirely new logistics footprint, which includes new ships to support, resupply, and maneuver Marines around the first island chain, littorals, and in a high-threat environment, where speed and mobility serves as the primary defense,” Gallagher said.

That may require new classes of ships, added Gallagher, who told industry representatives in the room that “new classes of ships do not have to mean less work, and in the case of the future amphibious fleet — because I believe we need more potentially smaller amphibious vessels — it might actually mean more work.”

In his remarks, Berger called deterrence “the underpinning of our strategy.”

“I believe that because whatever the cost of deterrence is,” Berger said, “is going to be lower than the cost of a fight, in terms of ships and planes and bodies. So we need to pay the price for deterrence. I’m 100% there.”

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

Articles

This Medal of Honor recipient was a convicted deserter

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
Photo: US Army Al Chang


Future colonel and Medal of Honor recipient Lewis Lee Millett joined the U.S. Army in the summer of 1938 but was really bummed when he learned the U.S. hadn’t gotten around to fighting the Germans yet.

So in 1941 he deserted and ran to Canada — a country with an army almost two years into its Nazi-killing campaign.

Millett went through basic training with the Canadians and learned their methods of bayonet fighting (That will be important later). He was shipped to London and manned an anti-aircraft gun during the London Blitz, but he switched back over to the U.S. Army when America entered the war.

After shipping to Africa, he saved a group of soldiers by jumping into a burning, ammunition-filled halftrack and driving it away from an Allied position. The Army awarded him the Silver Star. Millett followed this up by exposing himself to a German plane strafing Allied troops and shooting it down with machine guns mounted on another halftrack.

Unfortunately for then-Sgt. Millett, this was when the paperwork for his desertion found him. His unit was ordered three times to court-martial him before they actually did it. The commander hit Millett with a $52 fine, then made him a second lieutenant only a few weeks later with a battlefield commission.

He continued to serve after the war ended and was a captain in the Korean War where he earned both a Medal of Honor and a Distinguished Service Cross, each for a daring bayonet charge.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
Photo: Youtube

On Feb. 4, 1951, a platoon leader in Millett’s unit, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, was injured during a bayonet charge up a hill. Millett led a rescue effort to get the man while under fire, saving the young lieutenant. Millett was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions.

Three days later, Millett was leading a company attack when the 1st Platoon was pinned down by machine gun and anti-tank fire. Millett ordered 3rd Platoon forward and led it and 1st Platoon up the hill with fixed bayonets. His Medal of Honor citation describes what happens next.

In the fierce charge Captain Millett bayoneted two enemy soldiers and boldly continued on, throwing grenades, clubbing and bayoneting the enemy, while urging his men forward by shouting encouragement. Despite vicious opposing fire, the whirlwind hand-to-hand assault carried to the crest of the hill. His dauntless leadership and personal courage so inspired his men that they stormed into the hostile position and used their bayonets with such lethal effect that the enemy fled in wild disorder. During this fierce onslaught Captain Millett was wounded by grenade fragments but refused evacuation until the objective was taken and firmly secured.

Millett stayed in the Army but was sent home to receive his Medal of Honor. He had never attended an Army school as an officer, so the military sent him to the Infantry Officer Advanced Course and then Ranger School at Fort Benning.

He went on to serve in Vietnam where he once volunteered to be a hostage. Fighters who had been drafted by the Viet Cong wanted to leave the war but were afraid to attend negotiations because they could be ambushed and arrested. Millett volunteered himself as collateral and the Vietnamese fighters negotiated their surrender safely.

Col. Millett left the Army in 1973 because he believed the military had simply quit in Vietnam. He continued to work with veterans until his death in 2009 in a veteran’s hospital.

Articles

World’s only civilian-owned Harrier will join Syracuse Airshow to honor fallen Blue Angel pilot

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
Joe Anderson prepares for his performance at the Cleveland National Air Show in 2014 | Photo by Skeet Shooter


The 2016 Syracuse Airshow in Western New York was originally supposed to feature the US Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron as their headlining act, but with the loss of their Opposing Solo pilot Jeff “Kooch” Kuss (Blue Angel #6), the team withdrew from shows for the time being and returned to NAS Pensacola, Florida to grieve their fallen teammate and to determine the best course of action for the remainder of this airshow season.

The show’s other acts include the US Army’s Golden Knights parachute demonstration team, as well as the F-16 Viper demo and the GEICO Skytypers, but without the Blues, the lineup feels a little empty, especially with the incredibly sad reason for their cancellation. However, the show will most certainly go on, according to Syracuse’s organizers, now dedicated to the memory of the deceased Blue Angel. Profits from the show will be going towards the Kuss family in their time of need.

Now, the world’s only civilian Sea Harrier airshow team will be pitching in after a last-minute request from Syracuse’s organizers to assist with the show. Featuring a retired US Marine, Lieutenant Colonel Art Nalls, Team SHAR as they’re more popularly known, will be bringing their gray Sea Harrier and an L-39 Albatros to New York where they’ll perform for a reduced fee, and will also donate a considerable portion to Kuss’s family.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
Art Nalls at the Cleveland National Air Show

“A very busy weekend for our team. At 10:30 pm on Friday, I received a phone [call] … The show wants to continue, dedicated to the memory of Capt Kuss. ALL profits are going to support the family of Capt Kuss. Can we be there to support them?” Nalls says on his personal Facebook page. “Of course we’ll be there,” he enthusiastically replies. Team SHAR, having recently completed a demonstration, was in a stand down state of their own, as they didn’t have another scheduled performance for a while. Their aircraft required maintenance, their truck was in the process of being serviced, and the support trailer was also in the middle of being worked on.

But when the organizers called, Team SHAR kicked into high gear and readied themselves to roll out to support the show. “Emails were flying all weekend to get a quorum of mechs, driver, pilots, and planes ready,” said Nalls. The former Harrier pilot flies with Major General Joe Anderson, a man instrumental in helping to successfully integrate the AV-8A Harrier into the Marine Corps’ air wings. Anderson retired in 2001, while Nalls retired in 1998… both much before Kuss earned his commission as an Officer of Marines in 2006. However, the brotherhood that links the three Marine aviators transcends time, and Team SHAR’s willingness without hesitation to help out with the Syracuse show for the benefit of Kuss’s family truly  demonstrates the spirit of “Semper Fidelis”, the Latin motto of the Marine Corps which translates to “Always Faithful”.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

As Art aptly puts it, “While the airshow industry is indeed a business, it’s actually much more for the performers, supporters, and promoters. It’s more like a family.” If you can be there at Syracuse this coming weekend (June 10-12), please consider making your way over to the show. Though the previous headlining act has been canceled, Nalls Aviation expressed that they want people to continue to purchase tickets for the show, knowing that even though they won’t see the Blues perform, their money will go to do good for the family. It’s for a fantastic cause, and you’re bound to see some incredible flying and airmanship from some extremely gifted aviators.

Humor

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of March 23rd

The good news is that the government isn’t getting shut down and the military is getting a 2.4 percent pay raise.


The bad news is that the military now has to literally fight everyone everywhere.

But, before you deploy, check out these memes.

1. When your E-3 friends have an opinion. (via Decelerate Your Life)

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

2.  “They don’t even have a salad bar!” (via Pop Smoke)

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

3. But what about all those Army wives? (via Untied Status Marin Crops)

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
Life finds a way.

4. That’s why she’s a teacher and you’re… you. (via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
Small victories.

5. He should get closer to some coast.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

6. Everyone is turned on by A-10s.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

7. That’s what “Rescue Swimmer” aftershave is for. (via Coast Guard Memes)

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
Stay turnt.

8. The Coast Guard will be first to say… (via The Claw of Knowledge)

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
Space Guard BMs will learn to fight in zero-G.

9. Don’t ask questions if you don’t want the answer.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
The white also means no.

10. With MREs, it took a lot to get there. (via Why I’m Not Re-Enlisting)

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
Now let me tell you what we did with them…

 

11. Too bad there can only be one.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
And it outranks you.

 

12. Depends on your definition of “wrecking,” but ok.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
Too bad their kids’ kids will try to kill you.

 

13. When your heart isn’t at war with your head. (via Why I’m Not Re-Enlisting)

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
You saw this coming.

MIGHTY HISTORY

7 historical figures still plagued by crazy conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories usually reside in some pretty dark corners of the internet, but every now and then one will become part of the mainstream.

And conspiracy theories have been around for thousands of years — look no further than Jesus Christ himself for speculation about his relationship with Mary Magdalene. Also, ask anyone with a passing interest in the assassination of John F. Kennedy about the grassy knoll, and you’ll need to prepare for a torrent of information and conjecture.

Keep scrolling to learn more about these historical figures that have been followed, some for centuries, by wild conspiracy theories.


That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

1. The most prevalent conspiracy theory about Abraham Lincoln is about his assassination — namely, that John Wilkes Booth didn’t act alone.

The official record states that Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865, in Washington, DC, by John Wilkes Booth. Not everyone’s convinced, though.

According to the Ford’s Theatre website, there have been plenty of alleged co-conspirators in the plot to assassinate Lincoln, including Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin, the Pope, and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

2. Amelia Earhart disappeared and was presumed dead after her plane went missing, but some aren’t so sure that’s how it went down.

Earhart, a prolific pilot, vanished in 1937 during an attempted flight around the world. Earhart and her navigator departed from New Guinea on July 2 and were never heard from again. Two years later, they were officially declared dead.

From then on there have been multiple theories surrounding what happened to her. For example, one theory posits that she was captured by the Japanese, because a photo surfaced in the National Archives of a woman’s back that resembles Earhart. Japan denies this.

Another theory suggests that Earhart crashed, was captured by the Japanese, rescued by the US, and then moved to New Jersey to take up another identity, as per the book “Amelia Earhart Lives.”

Unfortunately, the most likely theory is that navigator Fred Noonan and Earhart’s plane crashed and the two were tragically killed.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

3. John F. Kennedy’s assassination is another event that’s rife with conspiracy theories.

In American history, there may have been nothing more contentious than the death of JFK in Dallas, Texas, in 1963. You might have even heard buzzwords like grassy knoll, umbrella man, and the Zapruder film. Here’s what they actually mean.

First, the Zapruder film: A bystander at the fateful motorcade happened to be recording footage of the president driving by. Conspiracy theorists believe that the film shows that multiple shots were fired, and that at least one was shot from a different angle than the other three, leading us to the grassy knoll.

The grassy knoll refers to a nearby grassy hill that another shooter, besides Lee Harvey Oswald, is theorized to have been lurking at, and that’s where another mysterious shot supposedly came from.

Another theory, the umbrella man, refers to a man holding a suspiciously large black umbrella on a notably sunny day. As The Washington Post reports, some believed that this man was working with the perpetrator[s], and had somehow converted his umbrella into a dart gun meant to paralyze the president.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

4. Many people believe that William Shakespeare didn’t actually write his own plays and sonnets, and was instead just a figurehead.

Could it be true that Shakespeare, the most influential playwright in history, didn’t actually write anything? Potentially … at least 70 other potential candidates have been put forth over the centuries, but a few have become front-runners.

Sir Francis Bacon was the first alternate Shakespeare to be named by author Delia Bacon (no relation). Bacon, unlike Shakespeare, was well-educated, well-traveled, and an accomplished philosopher. According to Delia, the scholar would’ve sullied his reputation if he had openly written plays like Shakespeare’s.

Two other popular theories are that Edward De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, is the actual Bard, or that Shakespeare was really Christopher Marlowe. Proponents of this theory, called Marlovians, believe that Marlowe faked his own death in a bar fight, and then began writing in earnest.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

5. At least one book has been written that claims “Alice in Wonderland” author Lewis Carroll might have moonlit as serial killer Jack the Ripper.

This conspiracy theory began with a book called “Jack the Ripper: Light-Hearted Friend,” written by Richard Wallace, a “clinical social worker and part-time Carroll scholar,” according to Mental Floss.

Jack the Ripper was a London-based serial killer who is said to have murdered at least five women in 1888. The culprit was never identified, leaving the case wide open for conspiracy theorists.

Wallace’s theory rests on the idea that Carroll had a mental breakdown while he was away at boarding school, and that he was never able to recover from the trauma. Most of the “evidence” comes from re-arranging the nonsensical passages of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” into more sinister sentences.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

6. A persistent theory about Jesus is that he was actually married to Mary Magdalene. This was popularized by Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code.”

One theory about the crucial Christian figure that has had a resurgence as of late is that Jesus was married to — and had children with — Mary Magdalene.

Magdalene was a companion of Jesus’, according to biblical writings, but there’s nothing to suggest that their bond was romantic in any way — or at least, there wasn’t until the Gnostic Gospels were found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in the 1940s.

These gospels appeared to confirm that Jesus and Magdalene were more than friends, and mention him kissing her frequently. However, many people disregard the Gnostic Gospels and don’t consider them a reliable source, and the theory died out for a few decades.

It came back to life when “The Da Vinci Code” was published in 2003. The entire plot hinges on the idea that Jesus and Magdalene were married and secretly had children, and that their lineage continued on to this day.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

7. According to some, Nikola Tesla invented what’s been called a “death ray,” and the US government has the plans.

When Tesla died in January 1943, the US government took a bunch of papers from his hotel room, and some claim that these included plans for a “particle-beam weapon,” aka a death ray.

For decades after, nobody knew what the government did with all these documents, making it easy for people to believe that the authorities were allegedly hiding schematics for a death ray.

The FBI eventually released some of these documents, but many are still missing — and it’s anybody’s guess what’s inside.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

How the US raided a Soviet arctic base in the Cold War

The U.S. and Soviet militaries in the Cold War both understood the importance of the Arctic. Their submarines moved under it, their bombers moved over it, and both sides kept radar stations to track each other’s planes and potential missile launches. But after the U.S. figured out how to track Soviet submarines from drift stations, they wanted to know if the Soviets had figured out the same trick.


The problem was that drift stations were small bases built on floating ice islands. It’s hard to sneak onto such isolated and small installations. Luckily, drift stations are a bit dangerous. As the ice shifts on the island, it can crack and rupture. Drift station commanders had to keep firm eyes on their runways. Otherwise, the ice could crack too badly and make escape impossible.

So they had a tendency to get abandoned every once in a while, but only as they were becoming inaccessible. Well, inaccessible to the Russians, who couldn’t get personnel out of the remote areas without a runway. But America had a new trick up its sleeve in 1962 it wanted to try out.

That was the Skyhook, an ingenious but dangerous tool that allowed planes to scoop people off of the ground using a system of hooks, wires, and balloons. A famous Batman clip actually shows the concept in very exciting detail. And, Russian Station NP 9 had recently been abandoned.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

An instruction comic for the Robert Fulton Skyhook.

(CIA)

But the mission would be dangerous. A small team would need to parachute into Arctic conditions, scrounge through the rubble of the rapidly breaking base, and then get extracted with a Skyhook before it all fell apart. This was Operation Coldfeet.

Two men were selected for the mission. Air Force Maj. James Smith was a Russian linguist with experience on American drift stations, and U.S. Navy Reserve Lt. Leonard LeSchack, an Antarctic geophysicist. LeSchack had to learn to jump out of planes, and both men had to train on the retrieval system.

But as the men trained, the target drift station was shifting further from their launch point at Thule Air Force Base, Greenland. Luckily, something even better came along.

Station NP 8 was a more modernized station, but its runway rapidly degraded and the Soviets abandoned it. America found out in March 1962 and shifted the planned operation to target NP 8.

But the operation was short on time. NP 8 wasn’t expected to last long. It was drifting quickly and would soon be crushed in the ice. And the training and the surveillance of NP 9 and then NP 8 had used up the funds allotted for the operation. So the military went shopping for partners, and the CIA was happy to help. They had their own questions about Soviet drift stations.

So an aviation company and CIA front, Intermountain Aviation, got a polar navigator and prepared to drop the men.

The insertion took place on May 28, and the two investigators got to work. They searched through piles of documents, technological equipment, and other artifacts to piece together what was happening at the drift station.

They discovered that, yes, the Soviets were tracking American subs. Worse, they were developing techniques to hunt them under the ice.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

The Fulton Skyhook being used by the men of Operation Coldfeet in 1962.

(CIA)

Smith and LeSchack made a prioritized set of documents and items they needed to get out, and they carefully packed it into bags. Over six days and five nights, they cataloged, documented, and packed. Then they attached them to balloons, filled the balloons with helium, and sent them into the sky where the plane snagged them up.

Once they were sure the bags were safe, they sent their own balloons up and got pulled out by the plane.

The Soviets wouldn’t know for years that their secret was out.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This barracks fire resulted in both heroism and controversy

From November 1947 to December 1948, Camp Pine, which would evolve into Fort Drum, hosted the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division for Exercise Snowdrop. The exercise was the largest over-snow airborne maneuver that the Army had undergone at the time and was designed to validate equipment, logistics and tactics for airborne operations in a sub-zero combat environment like the one that the paratroopers would experience if the United States were to go to war with the Soviet Union. Sadly, not all of the soldiers that participated saw the exercise through to its end.

During Snowdrop, building T-2278, a two-story wooden building, served as an officer barracks. The building housed many WWII veterans like Lt. Robert Manly, Lt. Wallace Swilley, Lt. Rudolph Feres and Capt. Francis Turner. Swilley had earned two Purple Hearts during the war, and Feres and Turner each earned three Bronze Stars.

In the early morning hours of December 10, 1947, the officers in building T-2278 were awoken by thick smoke and loud shouts from the second-floor hallway. The shouts came from Turner, who was first alerted to the fire by the smoke at approximately 0230 hrs. “Turner could have escaped at that point, having done his duty to warn his fellow Soldiers, but he did not,” said Col. Gary A. Rosenberg, Fort Drum Garrison Commander. “Ignoring his own safety, Capt. Turner chose to remain in the building to ensure each officer heard his alarm and to help the wounded among them to escape. Only after every wounded man was out of the building — which by this time was completely engulfed in flames — did he turn his attention to his own safety.”

The burned-out of building T-2278 after the fire (U.S. Army)

Survivor accounts lead Army historians to believe that, after Turner ran through the building to alert his comrades of the danger, he attempted to jump to safety from a second-story window. Tragically, his wedding ring got caught on a nail in the window and Turner was left hanging amidst the searing flames. He was eventually rescued by Pine Camp firefighters, but was left with severe burns; nearly 90 percent of his body had suffered third-degree burns.

Thanks to Turner, six officers escaped the flames unharmed. In addition to Turner, four other officers were injured but managed to escape. Capt. Robert Dodge, Lt. Robert Manly, Lt. Wallace Swilley, and Lt. Rudolph Feres died in the building. While the other injured officers were treated and sent home, Turner had been so badly burned that he remained at Pine Camp hospital for treatment. After 18 days, he succumbed to his wounds.

Many factors contributed to the tragedy of the Pine Camp barracks fire. First, the roving fire watchman saw smoke but believed that the fire was in a different building. Second, the fire department took about 45 minutes to arrive on site. Third, two-thirds of the firefighters had less than three months of experience. Fourth, the barracks fire was determined to be a quick and violent “flash-fire” that burned rapidly and with very little notice. It took three hours, three fire engines, and 1,950 feet of water line to extinguish the blaze.

The death toll would have been much higher if not for Turner (U.S. Army)

The cause of the fire remains a mystery. Duane Quates, an archaeologist with the Fort Drum Cultural Resources Branch, speculates that the fire could have been started by a faulty boiler or a careless cigarette. “This fire is the only structural fire on Fort Drum that had fatalities,” Quates said. “Every other structural fire may have had injuries, but they never had fatalities.” He also noted that the fire was a catalyst for modern fire safety measures like self-closing doors, permanent escape ladders, and heat raiser alarms.

On August 19, 1948, the four widows of the Pine Camp barracks fire sued the United States, claiming that their husbands’ deaths were the result of negligence due to a faulty heater. Their cases were dismissed by a Northern New York District Court judge who stated that the government was not liable for injuries that service members sustain while on active duty under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

The next year, Lt. Feres’ widow, Bernice Feres, brought her case before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Again, the case was dismissed. Feres persisted and, the next year, she appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The rulings of the previous courts were upheld and her case was dismissed again. This series of cases led to the controversial Feres Doctrine, which prevents service members from collecting damages for injuries sustained while on active duty and prohibits family members from filing wrongful death suits in the case of a service member’s death. To this day, service members and their families continue to challenge the Feres Doctrine.

Col. Rosenberg unveils the historic marker with Carolyn Leps and Elizabeth Barbee, Turner’s two surviving daughters (U.S. Army)

On August 27, 2013, Fort Drum dedicated a historic marker to the memory of the men killed in the Pine Camp barracks fire. Still, knowledge of the fire and Turner’s heroic actions are largely unknown. Years of historical research into the event continues today. Joseph “Sepp” Scanlin, the Fort Drum Museum director, says that the museum remains dedicated to its efforts for Turner to receive a military award for his actions during the fire.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Stalin tried to blame the massacre of Katyn on the Nazis

On April 13, 1943, Nazi Germany announced the discovery of a series of mass graves containing the bodies of thousands of Polish officers who had been arrested and then executed by the Soviet Army. Seventy-five years later, the Katyn massacre is still a sensitive issue between Poland and Russia.


MIGHTY TRENDING

Even more Russian ships are relying on tugs for breakdowns

In 2000, an explosion in the Russian submarine Kursk sent the vessel to the ocean floor, killing all 118 of its crew.

In the decade that followed, at least four fires broke out at Russian shipyards.

In 2009, Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov — which has been labeled one of the worst aircraft carriers in the world — lost a sailor when a fire broke out due to a short circuit.


And in 2016, the Kuznetsov cruised through the English channel belching black smoke on its way to the Mediterranean.

This series of accidents and problems leads to one inevitable conclusion: The Russian Navy has a maintenance problem.

Bryan Clark, senior fellow for the Center of Strategic and Budgetary Studies, said that when it comes to maintenance, “You can’t live on older ships. After 20 to 25 years, all you have is what’s left on the shelf.”

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

The Admiral Kuznetsov.

Though many of the incidents plagued their submarine force, even more telling than its history of catastrophes is the routine reliance on oceangoing tugs, which accompany its surface vessels on every deployment.

On Oct. 22, 2018, two Russian corvettes, a tanker, and a tug set sail for the North Atlantic.

Experts say Russia’s dependence on tugs is an indication of an aging, insufficient surface fleet.

While Russia can boast impressive littoral capabilities, for blue-water operations it leans heavily on its Cold War-era platforms, an influential naval expert said.

This is problematic for several reasons, according to Clark. Maintenance becomes more difficult as ships age, and as decades pass their parts become harder, if not impossible, to obtain. It is impossible, then, to manage the eventual breakdown of equipment, which results in a loss of redundancy for crucial systems.

This redundancy — secondary, tertiary and even quaternary systems — is what keeps ships afloat and ready to fight.

For the Russian Navy, the idea of tug as escort has become standard. For the rest of the world, Clark thinks there is a lesson to be learned.

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

Articles

China says it will fine US ships that don’t comply with its new rules in South China Sea

By 2020, China could be setting the stage for a massive naval confrontation in the South China Sea if it tries to enforce new rules that are currently in draft form.


That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
A helicopter attached to Chinese Navy ship multirole frigate Hengshui (572) participates in a maritime interdiction event with the Chinese Navy guided-missile destroyer Xi’an (153) during Rim of the Pacific. (Chinese navy photo by Sun Hongjie)

According to a report by Stars and Stripes, China wants to require all ships to ask permission before entering “Chinese waters” and all submarines to surface, announce their presence, and fly a flag. China has been taking steps to enforce its claims in the South China Sea, including a bomber flight and the construction of air bases on artificial islands.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

Reuters has reported that China has begun construction of what appear to be facilities intended to support long-range missiles at Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef, and Subi Reef. The news breaks after the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and the guided missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) carried out what the Navy described as “routine operations” in the maritime flashpoint.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

An international arbitration panel ruled against China’s claims last July, but the Chinese boycotted the process and have ignored the ruling against their claims. Last November, the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) carried out what were, for all intents and purposes, “freedom of navigation” exercises. This past December saw a Chinese vessel carry out the brazen heist of an American unmanned underwater vehicle.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
Map of the ChiComs’ Nine-Dash Line (Illustration from Wikimedia Commons)

Quartz Media reports that the Chinese will fine any vessel that fails to comply $70,000. No word on how they intend to collect, but the U.S. has a lengthy tradition of refusing to pay such fines, going back to the XYZ Affair, when a South Carolina Rep. Robert G. Harper, famously coined the phrase, “Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute.”

It should be noted that deagel.com, an online encyclopedia of military hardware, prices a Standard surface-to-air missile at $750,000 per unit, and a Harpoon anti-ship missile at $720,000 per unit.

Articles

At least two killed in attack on NATO convoy

At least two American military personnel were killed in a murder-suicide attack on a NATO convoy in Afghanistan earlier today. A press release from Operation Resolute Support confirmed the attack and that casualties had been inflicted, while Stars and Stripes reported that a Pentagon spokesman had confirmed the number of casualties.


According to a report by FoxNews.com, the convoy was hit on the southern edge of the city of Kandahar, the capital of the province of the same name in the country. Currently, about 8,400 American troops are in Afghanistan, alongside about 5,100 NATO personnel. The Trump Administration is considering whether or not to increase the American deployment by about 4,000 personnel.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
A U.S. Marine with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment guides a convoy of Marines returning from field training at Camp Wilson on Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., on March 11, 2009. (DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy Harris, U.S. Marine Corps)

These are not the first casualties the United States military has suffered in Afghanistan this year. In April, two Rangers were killed in a raid on the Taliban in Achin. Earlier this week, a UH-60 Blackhawk made a hard landing, injuring two American military personnel. NBCNews.com reported that the attack took place near the airport, which also served as a major military base for NATO personnel.

Stars and Stripes also reported that the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming to have killed two generals, 13 other troops, and destroying two armored vehicles. The Taliban have been known to exaggerate claims. They claimed they destroyed the Blackhawk that went down, and had killed all on board.

That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Edge, 11th ACR

The attack took place a day after a Shiite mosque in Heart province was attacked, leaving 29 dead and 64 wounded. No groups claimed responsibility for the attack. ISIS has gained a foothold in Afghanistan, and the Taliban have made gains in the country in recent months.

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