Military Myths and Legends

US Navy Sailor Tattoos and Their Meanings

US Navy Sailor Tattoos and Their Meanings

Sailors have probably been getting tattoos since landlubbers could become sailors. Many cultures have used tattoos as markings for warriors since even before the Roman Empire’s heyday. Pope Hadrian the First ended the practice in the West when he outlawed tattoos in 787. US Navy Sailor Tattoos found a rebirth in the 16th Century, however, and have been popular ever since.  The Significance of Sailor Tattoos Sailors tattooed themselves for many reasons. Tattoos were used as identification, to show allegiance or esprit de corps. American sailors used tattoos to keep themselves from being forced to serve aboard British ships. Most importantly, they were (and remain) part of a culture filled with superstitions. Popularity among civilians ebbs and flows, but with sailors and military members, the tradition always remains strong. For sailors, in particular, they’re poignant reminders of their travels and achievements as men of the sea. Here are just a few common sailors’ tattoos...

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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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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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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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General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Meteoric Rise

General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Meteoric Rise

Speaking of Eisenhower, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery once said, "nice chap, no general." General George Patton once lamented that it was too bad that Eisenhower had no personal knowledge of war. General Omar Bradley would write that Eisenhower "had little grasp of sound battlefield tactics." That might seem like some pretty harsh criticism considering the West tends to look back on Eisenhower as the man who led the allies to victory in Europe. His iconic status was further cemented in history when he became President of the United States in 1952. However, the historical facts would prove that Eisenhower was but a LtCol at the start of 1941 and an officer who had never personally seen combat. Yet, that wouldn't stop him from getting the keys to one of the largest military force the world has ever known. General Dwight D. Eisenhower: A Mediocre Rise to Power Dwight D Eisenhower entered the halls of West Point in 1911 with a greater chance of becoming a football star than the Supreme...

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Four-Legged Military Hero – MWD Lucca

Four-Legged Military Hero – MWD Lucca

During the long war in Iraq and Afghanistan, coalition forces relied on thousands of military working dogs to help keep them safe by detecting explosives, finding illegal drugs, searching for missing comrades, or targeting enemy combatants. Dozen died in the line of duty. Others struggle with wounds and post-traumatic stress. Many have earned recognition for heroism. Among the heroes is Lucca, a highly skilled German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix trained to sniff out explosives and protect the combat Marines and Special Forces she served.  Lucca is the Most Legendary Military Working Dogs Lucca and her military dog handler Marine Staff Sgt. Chris Willingham were together on two combat tours in Iraq. Later Lucca would have an Afghanistan tour with her new dog handler, Marine Corporal Juan Rodriguez.  According to the Military Working Dog Team Support Association, Inc. Lucca is among the most legendary military working dogs. Through almost six years of military service, Lucca...

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The Chopper Popper

The Chopper Popper

The grounds of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs are packed to the gills with Air Force history. Among the legends on display is a green-colored Air Force Reserve A-10 Thunderbolt II (also known as a Warthog), positioned with its nose skyward. A closer look at that nose reveals its name: "The Chopper Popper."  How the Chopper Popper Keeps the Tradition of Nose Art Alive Nose art isn't that common in the Air Force these days, but it's not totally forbidden. The aging but plucky fleet of A-10s have all but kept the tradition alive in recent decades. Warthogs are usually bearing teeth or tusks on their noses, not the sea creature gripping a helicopter in its massive claws. The Chopper Popper's art is an homage to its nickname, picked up for the stunning air-to-air kill made by then-Capt. Bob Swain during the first Gulf War. The A-10 is known for a lot of things, but dogfighting isn't one of them. It was designed to be a gun with wings, a flying tank that could get in close...

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Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor

Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor

Two hundred thirty-five years ago an event took place which, had it succeeded, would have ended the American fight for independence. Before exploring that near disaster, see if you can answer these questions about the American Revolutionary War, all of which have some bearing on the event. Who was called "The Hannibal of North America?" Who built a fleet on Lake Champlain and fought British ships invading New York from Canada? Who led a small American army more than 300 miles through the Maine wilderness in fierce winter conditions in an attempt to capture Quebec?  Whose heroic action at the Battle of Saratoga led to the greatest American victory of the war? Who did George Washington consider to be his best fighting general? Who attempted to betray West Point to the British in exchange for 20,000 British Royal Pounds?  A True Hero of the First Days of the War Benedict Arnold The answer to all these questions is Benedict Arnold, the most notorious traitor in American...

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Mustache March

Mustache March

Every November for the past few years, more and more American men are adopting the custom of growing out their mustaches to raise awareness about men's health issues. "Movember," as it's come to be called, raises awareness on such topics as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men's suicide.  Portrait "Mustache March" is a Military Tradition to Honor Robin Olds The men of the United States Air Force adopted a similar custom, except theirs comes in March and for a very different reason. "Mustache March" is a military tradition to honor one man: fighter pilot, World War II triple-ace, and Vietnam War legend Robin Olds.  Robin Olds was, without a doubt, one of America's greatest fighter pilots. He was the son of an Army Air Corps captain who hung out with a virtual who's who of Air Force legends: Billy Mitchell, Hap Arnold, Carl Spaatz, and Eddie Rickenbacker, just to name a few.  When Olds came of age, he attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (where he...

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Civil War – Andersonville Prison

Civil War – Andersonville Prison

There were 150 prison camps on both sides in the Civil War, and they all suffered from disease, overcrowding, exposure, and food shortages. But Andersonville was notorious for being the worst. Some men agreed to freedom and fought for the South as galvanized soldiers, fearing the dangers of imprisonment to be greater than those of the battlefield. Officially named Camp Sumter, the most notorious Civil War stockade was hastily constructed in early 1864 near the town of Andersonville in southwest Georgia. The number of Union soldiers held near Richmond had swelled with the breakdown of prisoner exchange agreements, posing a threat to the Confederate capital's security and taxing Virginia's already limited resources. Andersonville Was Jammed with over 32,000, Almost All Enlisted Men In late February, Federal prisoners began to be transferred to the still-unfinished Georgia facility. By July, Andersonville, built to accommodate up to 10,000 captured soldiers, was jammed with over 32,000,...

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The Loss Of Coast Guard Cutter USS Tampa

The Loss Of Coast Guard Cutter USS Tampa

USS Tampa's short story began on August 9, 1912, when the U.S. Revenue Service Cutter (UCRC) Miami, built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Corp, was commissioned at Arundel Cove, MD. The ship was named for the Miami Indian tribe rather than for the then little settlement in South Florida. At the time, several revenue cutters were named after Indian tribes. The Miami was 190 ft long, with a 14.6-ft draft and a displacement of 1,181 tons. Her normal crew complement was 70 Officers and men, she carried three quick-firing six-pounders and various small arms, and she could do 13 knots. The Miami's first duty was with the International Ice Patrol, operating out of Halifax and looking for icebergs. Subsequently, she was based in Tampa, Florida, and developed a relationship with the city. In January 1915, the Revenue Cutter Service and the Lifesaving Service were merged and renamed the U.S. Coast Guard. It was then decided that the Indian tribal names were to be phased out, so in...

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Cold War Double Agents Within the CIA

Cold War Double Agents Within the CIA

How much do you know about Cold War double agents within the CIA? Just recently, news has been released by a CIA analyst that, during the Cold War, there were double agents who worked for the CIA while remaining secretly loyal to communist spy agencies. There were nearly 100 fake CIA “agents” in East Germany, Cuba, and the Soviet Union. These “agents” made up false intelligence that was then passed on to the U.S. policymakers for years.

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