Great Military Stories

American GIs Battle a German Sniper in Snowy WWII Thriller ‘Recon’

American GIs Battle a German Sniper in Snowy WWII Thriller ‘Recon’

"Recon," a good old-fashioned World War II movie, turns out to be one of the few films that are trying to make a big impact in theaters this fall.  The movie follows four American soldiers over the course of a day after they are sent on a possible suicide mission over a mountain. An old Italian partisan leads them, and no one can be sure of his loyalties. The men witnessed their Sergeant kill an Italian civilian just before this assignment, so no one really knows whether they are supposed to succeed or perish. The producers have released the movie's trailer, and we can get now getting a sense of what the movie's like. The Allied campaign to take Italy from the German forces was both brutal and tedious. Young American soldiers are ordered to climb a mountain and bring back intel to their Sergeant. On their journey, they encounter an Italian partisan who offers to serve as a guide. After the group locates the German tanks, they hightail it back down the slopes to deliver the news....

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Famous Marine Corps Unit: The 2nd Marine Division (2nd MARDIV)

Famous Marine Corps Unit: The 2nd Marine Division (2nd MARDIV)

When activated at Marine Corps Base San Diego in Feb 1941 to succeed its forebear, the 2nd Marine Brigade (est. 1936), our 2nd Marine Division, "The Silent Second," consisted of the 2nd, 6th, and 8th Marine infantry regiments; 10th Marines, an artillery regiment; engineer, medical, service, and tank battalions; and transport, signal, chemical, and antiaircraft machine gun companies. The Journey Through the History of the 2nd Marine Division During WWII, the 2nd Marine Division (HQ) participated in the Pacific Theater of Operations, including combat and other action at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Saipan, Peleliu, Tinian, Cape Gloucester, Okinawa and Nagasaki (less than a month after the atomic weapon detonation there). Also, in WWII, two Seabee battalions were posted to the 2nd MARDIV; the 18th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) was assigned to the 18th Marines as the third Battalion of the regiment. The Division did not take part in a major action again...

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WW2 – D-Day Landings: The 82nd and 101st Airborne

WW2 – D-Day Landings: The 82nd and 101st Airborne

The amphibious landings of D-Day were hours away when the first combat missions by the US Army started in France. The Normandy invasion, also called Operation Overlord or D-Day, began with a large-scale parachute drop that included 13,100 Soldiers of the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions. During the night in the early hours of June 6th, 1944, the attack occurred and was the vanguard of the Allied operations in Normandy. What Was the Mission of the US 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions on D-Day? The troops were all part of the United States VII Corps assigned to capture Cherbourg, the coastal city in Normandy, and thus project power across the strategically essential Cotentin Peninsula. With Cherbourg secure, it could serve as a supply port for the Allied troops after the landing. They were also tasked with a specific mission: to block approaches into the vicinity of the amphibious landing at Utah Beach, to capture causeway exits off the beaches, and to establish...

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Lieutenant Mark Baden – Heroic Pilot Just Managed to Land and Save His Buddy’s Life

Lieutenant Mark Baden – Heroic Pilot Just Managed to Land and Save His Buddy’s Life

Being launched off the flight deck of an aircraft carrier is a normal routine, but adrenaline junkie pilots love the radical feel of about 4 Gs. On July 9, 1991, an A-6 Intruder modified to be a refueling aircraft was shot off the Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf. Lieutenant Mark Baden was the pilot and had his friend and navigator (BN), Lieutenant Keith Gallagher beside him. It was Gallagher's birthday, and he advised Mark Baden when they returned it would be his 100th trap recovery on an aircraft carrier. A mid-air collision had occurred a few days earlier, and Mark Baden was slightly nervous. On top of all the other odd circumstances, he was actually assigned the plane with his name emblazoned on the side - unlike in the movies, the pilots don't always fly the plane with their name. He made all the normal checks and touched all the buttons and switches. Satisfied he was ready for anything, the aircraft was blasted off the end of the carrier to accomplish the mission: to refuel...

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Russian Sniper Roza Shanina

Russian Sniper Roza Shanina

In the deep silence of the vast Russian pine forest, a small, lonesome figure was walking. It was just a few years before the outbreak of the Second World War. She had set out alone, without the permission of her parents, carrying only enough food to keep her on her feet for the long march. She was used to walking. Every day for years she had walked eight miles to and from her school in the little village closest to her home; she knew she could do it. Her self-belief and determined spirit drove her steadily on. She was fourteen years old. This was Roza Shanina. She walked one hundred and twenty miles all alone, at last reaching a train station. From the station, she took the train to the city of Arkhangelsk, where she enrolled in the city's college. She loved the city. The cinemas, the lights, the people and the bustle were worlds away from the isolation of her early years. She was friendly, quick, talkative, and highly intelligent, and so she made many friends. Often, she would...

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The Revolutionary War – The Battle of Saratoga

The Revolutionary War – The Battle of Saratoga

The road to the American Revolutionary War - or War of Independence - began in the wake of the French and Indian War (1754 - 1763) when the government of King George III of Great Britain decided that the American colonies should share in the costs associated with the War by adding taxes to common goods, such as sugar, molasses and tea. These attempts were met with increasingly stiff resistance. American colonists claimed they were unconstitutional, suggesting that they deserved to have representation in the British Parliament if they were to shoulder some of the war costs. Taking a harsh response, the British instead used their military to allow their representatives to safely perform their tax collection and other duties. At the time, the loyalties among the colonists were divided. Historians estimate that one-third of colonists supported the American Revolution, one-third sided with the British, and one-third remained neutral about breaking away from British rule. Background of the...

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Did World War II Soldiers Mutiny after V-J Day?

Did World War II Soldiers Mutiny after V-J Day?

On May 8, 1945, the Allies accepted the formal surrender of Nazi Germany. The capitulation of the last Axis power in Europe marked the end of World War II there. The war in the Pacific, however, was still raging. American troops, along with the rest of the Allies, began to reorient their forces to concentrate on fighting the Japanese. But they didn't have to work for very long. Just a few months later, the Japanese Empire also surrendered. On August 15, 1945, the Japanese forces officially surrendered, and World War II was finally over (V-J Day). The Allies had won the war.  What Was before V-J Day? Over the course of four years, the United States had enlisted, trained, equipped, and shipped some 7.6 million men and women overseas. They had done their duty, and they were ready to go home - they wanted to make it home by Christmas.  Unfortunately, four months was not enough time to move millions of men from the four corners of the globe back to their stateside homes. Many...

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Eileen Nearne – British WWII Heroine

Eileen Nearne – British WWII Heroine

The "Croix de Guerre" or "Cross of War," is a French military decoration honoring people for their resistance against the Nazis in WWII. Furthermore, being appointed a "Member of the Order of the British Empire" by King George VI for services rendered in France during the enemy occupation was a high British honor. Any man who was awarded such honors must have been a remarkable one. Only, in this case, we are dealing with a woman and a brave and tenacious one at that. The Perilous Life of Eileen Nearne in WWII Eileen Nearne, the woman who received these accolades, lived a perilous life in WWII. To a large extent, her exploits mirrored those of Charlotte Gray in the 2001 movie bearing the same name. The film, based on the novel by Sebastian Faulks, features the adventures of female agents in German-occupied France. But why have most of us never heard of Eileen Nearne? Is it because her missions were so top-secret that information never leaked out? Or is it like many events during the...

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The Revolutionary War – Washington Crossing the Delaware

The Revolutionary War – Washington Crossing the Delaware

The American Revolution did not start off the way the Americans had hoped. By Christmas night, 1776, morale was lower than it had ever been. The British Army had captured New York the previous summer, and men were beginning to desert as Washington's Army camped across the Delaware River from occupied Trenton (Washington Crossing the Delaware), New Jersey.  What men Washington had left were largely inexperienced, as most of the veterans from the Battle of Long Island went home when their enlistments were up. Even Washington himself was unsure of the near future. All was not lost, however. He did have a few factors in his favor. For starters, his forces outnumbered those of the Hessian mercenaries who occupied Trenton. He also had a solid intelligence source inside Trenton, providing information on the numbers, movements, and dispositions of the enemy. Washington decided to craft a perfectly-detailed attack that would surprise the Hessians and give the Americans a badly-needed...

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Civil War – The Battle of Shiloh

Civil War – The Battle of Shiloh

The first year of the American Civil War wasn’t a great one for the Union Army. Losses at places like Bull Run and Ball’s Bluff overshadowed a string of smaller but equally important battles across the country. President Abraham Lincoln’s general-in-chief, George B. McClellan, was highly regarded by his men but was difficult to deal with, increasingly insubordinate, and failed to follow up on his victories.  However, a shining star was beginning to emerge in the Western Theater of the war. Ulysses S. Grant began the war in 1861 as a Colonel but was elevated to command a campaign along the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers by Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont. Grant, it would turn out, had the aggression necessary to take the fight to the rebels. He bloodied the Confederates at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, the two most significant Union victories at the time, forcing the rebels out of Kentucky.  The Battle of Shiloh: The Bloody Turning Point President Lincoln promoted Grant, now...

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SSG Wilson Watson, U.S. Army (1942-1966)

SSG Wilson Watson, U.S. Army (1942-1966)

Within the ranks of the military, there exists a certain rivalry between those who serve on the front lines and those who serve in the rear with the gear. While all jobs contribute to putting Americans in the fight, the Marines have long prized their beloved infantry above all. In modern terms, it is referred to as the "grunt versus POG debate" with POG referring to "persons other than grunts." In Vietnam, one might have heard the term REMF. Whatever one might call those in the rear, it would serve students of history well to hold their tongue before calling men like Army mess hall cook Wilson Watson a POG or REMF. Little would they know that they would be speaking of a former Marine who fought the Japanese Army alone for 15 minutes on Iwo Jima before the rest of his platoon caught up. The cook serving up a healthy dose of S.O.S on a plate had previously served up violence on Iwo Jima that would lead to the deaths of 60 enemy soldiers. Yes, quite literally, the soldier cracking eggs...

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Korean War – The Battle of Chipyong-Ni

Korean War – The Battle of Chipyong-Ni

On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began when some 75,000 Soldiers from the North Korean People's Army (NPKA) poured across the 38th parallel and, within days, captured Seoul, the South Korean capital. For two months, the outnumbered South Korean army and the small American force fought numerous battles with NPKA as they withdrew down the Korean peninsula to the Pusan area at the southeast tip of Korea. It was here that they set up a final defensive perimeter where they were able to impede the enemy's advancement. To take the pressure off the continuous attacks by the NKPA, a counteroffensive began on Sept. 15th, when United Nations forces made a daring landing at Incheon on the west coast. The unexpected attack crushed the meager NPKA defenses within a few days, cutting off North Korean supply lines to the south.  U.N. casualties during the Incheon landing and subsequent battles resulted in 566 killed and 2,713 wounded. In the fighting, the NKPA lost more than 35,000 killed and...

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