That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building - We Are The Mighty
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That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building

Decades before the terror attacks of 2001 struck New York City, another, very different plane crashed into the Empire State Building, arguably one of New York City’s — America’s —most iconic buildings. It was July 1945, and it wasn’t terrorism or even an attack from the Japanese Empire (with which America was still at war).


It was a simple wrong turn from a U.S. military B-25 bomber.

The aircraft flight plan indicated the plane was coming from Massachusetts and would land at La Guardia. Instead the pilot decided to land in Newark but got lost in the heavy fog while flying over Manhattan. Believing he was on the West Side of the island, he flew to the right instead of the left when he went around the Chrysler Building. That was his fatal error.

According to a 1995 story in the New York Times, Lt. Col. William F. Smith Jr. heard from the tower at La Guardia airport that the top of the Empire State Building wasn’t visible in the fog. Minutes later, he hit the iconic skyscraper between its 78th and 79th floors at 200 miles per hour.

The crash blew an 18-by-20-foot hole 913 feet above 34th Street. It’s tail section was stuck in the hole in the building.

 

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building
The aftermath of a B-25 Bomber that crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945.

Luckily, the bomber was an unarmed trainer aircraft with no bombs on board. The explosions that rocked the area came from the B-25’s fuel tanks exploding.

“It was as if a bomb went off,” said harpsichordist Albert Fuller, who was shopping across from the Empire State Building that day. “The floor moved. I looked at the clerk and said, ‘Isn’t that strange?’ And I thought it couldn’t be an earthquake.”

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building

Fourteen people died, all told; the three bomber crewmembers and 11 people working in the building that day.

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Watch EOD blow up a van with C4 in a beer can

Explosive Ordnance Disposal is going to be a career field that lasts for a long time. This is because unexploded stuff is all over the place, some dating back to the Civil War. Germany and the United Kingdom have had to deal with bombs from World War II as well in the past year alone.


The problem isn’t just the old ordnance. There is also the need to deal with the newer stuff. This generally falls into the category of the improvised explosive device, or IED. The folks called in to deal with the ones found in time are the EOD units.

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building
Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Queer wears a Med-Eng EOD 9 Bomb Suit. The EOD 9, the latest version of the bomb suit, was designed with direct input from bomb disposal technicians. Queer is the 325th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit non-commissioned officer in charge of EOD operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

To get into an EOD unit takes a lot of training. According to the Air Force’s recruiting web site, you need to spend 163 days following basic training and Airman’s Week to become an “Enlisted Airman with credits earned towards Explosive Ordnance Disposal” before going to the United States Navy’s EOD school.

The job is not hazard-free, even in peacetime. In 2013, four Marine EOD techs were killed in an accident at Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, California. Wartime is very hazardous, too. In 2016, a Navy EOD tech was killed in Syria. A 2016 article in Airman Magazine noted that at least 20 Air Force EOD techs have been killed since 2003.

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building
Staff Sgt. James Vossah (Left), Staff Sgt. Brian Wirt (Middle) and Senior Airman Anthony Deleon configure a Micro Tactical Ground Robot (MTGR) to begin a training exercise at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

A 2015 release by the Air Force noted that the service has a need for 134 new EOD techs a year. The service has recently changed its training for that role, which includes a greater emphasis on hands-on learning for those becoming EOD team leaders.

Watch the video to check out some Air Force EOD techs as they train by using beer cans stuffed with C4 to deal with a van.

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This Iraq vet kayaker will make you rethink PTSD


Army veteran Russell Davies knows all about taking the big plunge back into civilian life after military service. As a member of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, he served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and became a recipient of the Purple Heart.

Now a professional whitewater kayaker, Davies has made a name for himself both in competition and as a dominator of the biggest, burliest whitewater on the planet.

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building
“Yeah, sometimes Class V just isn’t enough.” “Totally.” (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

“Oscar Mike” host Ryan Curtis caught up with Davies in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, to see what a day on the water is all about, but what he found there goes a whole lot deeper.

As a civilian, Davies has given himself a new mission: to help returning veterans address the challenges of PTSD and depression through participation in extreme sports. His organization aims to connect vets to the kind of positive, purpose-driven adrenaline rush that he found through kayaking.

But, lest you fear the day was all mutual support and quiet healing, our host — true to form — came through with an 11th hour challenge that once again pushed him to the brink of washing out.

Watch as Davies shows Curtis why real men wear (spray) skirts and the only water worth knowing is white in the video embedded at the top.

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How the Air Force makes the ‘smell of victory’

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” That line from the classic war movie Apocalypse Now ranks as one of cinema’s all-time bests. But just how, exactly, do you make napalm? How do you produce the flammable liquid that, as Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore would say, smells like victory?


While the Oxford Dictionary describes napalm as a mixture of gasoline and certain types of soap, the definitive, World War II version used a combination of phosphorous, naphthalene, and palmitate. Modern napalm is a mix of gasoline, benzene, and polystyrene.

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building
An Ecuadorian air force Kfir aircraft drops napalm on a target range during the joint US and Ecuadorian Exercise BLUE HORIZON. (USAF photo)

The mixture is designed to stick to a target and burn hot for a long time. Oh, and it has its own oxidizer, so you can’t smother it and water won’t put it out. As you might imagine, prepping bombs for a napalm strike is a complicated procedure. In some rare cases, the mixture would leak from bombs like the M47, which was the primary delivery system for napalm weapon during the Vietnam War.

According to a United States Army document, the M47 was a “chemical bomb.” Officially classified as a 100-pound bomb, the actual weight depended on what it was loaded with. This bomb could carry a form of napalm known as Incendiary Oil, but it also could carry white phosphorous, mustard gas, or a field-expedient mixture of rubber and gasoline.

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building
Sgt. Jamal G. Walker and Lance Cpl. Carl Feaster tighten the sway braces on a Mark 77 napalm bomb while loading it onto the wing pylon of a Marine Strike Fighter Squadron 321 (VMHA-321) F/A-18A Hornet aircraft. The Mark 77 is the modern version of the napalm bomb. (US Navy photo)

The current “napalm” bomb in the American arsenal is the Mk 77. This bomb replaces the gasoline with kerosene, and it was used during the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Battle of Tora Bora, and during Operation Desert Storm.

In general, the use of napalm has declined as more and more precision-guided bombs have entered service.  Still, there is something to be said about dropping napalm on the bad guys.

See how some of the older napalm bombs were prepared and dropped in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4GkljbxTGU
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Watch the Coast Guard bust the biggest Narco-Sub ever

Narco-subs, aka drug subs, aka Bigfoot submarines, are custom-made submarines used by cartels in Central and South America to smuggle drugs (usually cocaine) from Colombia to Mexico and/or the United States. For more than twenty years the U.S. Coast Guard has been on the watch for these kinds of smuggling techniques. The first time they found one, they dubbed it Bigfoot, because before they actually found one, they had only heard rumors of their existence.


 

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building
A narco-sub under construction in Ecuador

 

Sometimes the subs are self-propelled, sometimes, they’re dragged by a surface ship. Sometimes the subs are fully submersible, sometimes, they aren’t. This all depends on the level of expertise in their creation. The subs can typically carry tons of illegal cargo. Before subs, fishing vessels and speed boats were the main enemy in the war on shipping, but they can be seen on radar and the Coast Guard developed a special kind of helicopter to catch the fast boats. Much of cocaine moved that way was intercepted.

In July 2015, the Coast Guard caught a semi-submersible running just below the waterline.

 

In the video, the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crew seizes bales of coke from a self-propelled semi-submersible submarine caught 200 miles off the coast of Mexico, July 19, 2015. They captured more than six tons of drugs from the 40-foot ship, worth an estimated $181 million. Another two tons of cocaine sank with the homemade sub.

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Watch these spec ops vets explain the differences between Rangers, SEALs, PJs, Green Berets, and Recon

In Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”, the actors were mentored by the type of warfighters they portray in the film in order to accurately depict their abilities and experiences. Each of these men was a member of an elite group called the Global Response Staff, which draws from the full suite of special operations units.


We Are The Mighty partnered with “13 Hours” to bring together spec ops vets of each branch to discuss the differences between Army Rangers and Green Berets, Air Force Pararescuemen, Navy SEALs, and Marine Recon.

Their explanations are specific and nuanced and explained as only those who’ve “been there and done that” can.

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Vietnam vet-turned-stunt driver lets WATM take the wheel

WATM’s Ryan Curtis hits the streets with stunt driver Jim Wilkey, a Vietnam War vet whose Hollywood credits include “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” “Rush Hour,” “Inception,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and “The Dark Knight Trilogy.’ Jim’s experience in the Navy working with a wide range of equipment gave him the knowledge to get started as a stuntman and stunt driver.


Follow along as Jim (bravely) lets Ryan get behind the wheel and try his hand at the stunt course.

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Comedy Bootcamp helped this Army vet hone her standup routine

Isaura Ramirez is an Army veteran and alumna of the Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP) Comedy Bootcamp program. ASAP is an organization based in Virginia that builds communities for veterans, servicemembers, and military families through classes, performances, and partnerships in the arts. As part of their mission, ASAP offers a Comedy Bootcamp for veterans to explore and develop their comedic abilities.


Isaura served in the Army for 13 years before seizing the opportunity to attend the ASAP Comedy Bootcamp. Isaura has approached comedy as a way of expressing her unique perspective of being a veteran. Comedy has helped her, as she put it, “direct her anger and frustration into something positive.”

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Ukraine could get this deadly US missile to defend against Russian tanks

Reports emerged July 31 that the US is planning to send defensive weapons to Ukraine in order to deter Russia, which has managed and funded rebels in the Donbas.


The plan includes sending Javelin anti-tank missile systems, and possibly anti-aircraft and other weapons systems.

Developed by Raytheon in 1989, the FGM-148 Javelin is a large, shoulder-mounted, infrared-guided missile system capable of piercing 600mm to 800mm steel armor.

The Javelin is a medium-range missile system that fires up to 1.5 miles, weighs about 50 pounds, and costs about $126,000 — plus $78,000 for each missile.

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building
Army photo by Spc. Patrick Kirby, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division

Once the soldier has locked onto a target using the infrared guided system, he or she simply squeezes the trigger and then can take cover, according to the National Interest, because it’s a fire-and-forget system. This means the operator doesn’t have to make any adjustments to the missile flight after firing — as they do with most long-range systems.

Ultimately, it’s “one of the premier portable anti-tank missile systems in the world,” the National Interest said.

Reports have shown that Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas have Russian T-34, T-64, variants of T-72B, and even T-90 tanks.

Javelins can take out all of these, except possibly the T-72B3Ms and T-90s. The latter two sport new Relikt armor, which consists of an explosive layer of armor on top of another layer. They also have grenade and flare decoys that can divert missiles.

Either way, the Javelin has never been tested against Relikt armor, and therefore it’s unknown if the missiles can take out the T-90s and T-72B3Ms.

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building
T-90A main battle tank. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin.)

In any event, President Donald Trump still needs to sign off on the plan — which could take months — to send Ukraine the Javelin and other defensive weapons.

There also remains speculation about the plan’s intentions.  “This idea doesn’t flow from a policy or strategy” and could be a political move rather than military one, Michael Kofman, a Wilson Center senior fellow, told the Washington Post.

Questions also remain about whether or not providing weapons to Kiev will inflame the conflict.  While France and Germany are concerned that fighting will increase, some US officials, such as Kurt Volker, the US special representative to Ukraine, think it will decrease the fighting.

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building
Dept. of Defense photo by Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Jackson

Russia — which has used Syria to test out its new armaments — and even some US generals, however, are champing at the bit to test how the east and west weapons match up against each other.

At least 10,090 people — including 2,777 civilians — have been killed, and nearly 24,000 have been wounded, through May 15, according to the UN. More than 1.6 million people have been internally displaced.

Watch the Javelin in action:

(Gung Ho Vids | YouTube)
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Army Legend Hal Moore Dies at 94

Legendary retired Army Lt. Gen. Harold “Hal” Moore of “We Were Soldiers” fame died Feb. 10. The commander of 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of Ia Drang was days short of his 95th birthday.


That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building

According to a report by the Opelika-Auburn Tribune, Lt. Gen. Moore had suffered a stroke on the evening of Feb. 9 and was “hanging tough,” according to a family member.

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building
Then-Lt. Col. Hal Moore and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley in Vietnam. Plumley died in 2012.

Moore gained immortality from the book, “We Were Soldiers Once, and Young,” co-written with reporter Joe Galloway, about the battle of the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam. The book was used as the basis for the 2002 film “We Were Soldiers,” in which Academy Award-winning actor Mel Gibson portrayed Moore.

Moore served 32 years in the Army after graduating from West Point, and his decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross and four Bronze Stars.

According to an official after-action report, the three-day battle left 79 Americans killed in action, and another 121 wounded. None were left behind or missing after the battle. American forces killed 634 enemy troops, and wounded at least 1,200.

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building
Soldiers of the U.S. Amry 1/7th Cavalry disembark from a Bell UH-1D Huey at LZ X-Ray during the battle of Ia Drang. (US Army photo)

While preparing to film the epic movie — which made over $78 million at the United States box office, according to Box Office Mojo — Gibson would develop a deep friendship with Moore. This past summer, while headlines noted that Gibson and Vince Vaughn had eaten at Hamilton’s, an Auburn-area restaurant, what hadn’t been known then was that Moore’s family had recommended the eatery to the A-list superstars.

Below, here are some of the more iconic moments from “We Were Soldiers,” starring Mel Gibson as Hal Moore.

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