Military Myths and Legends

Civil War – From Manassas to Appomattox Court House

Civil War – From Manassas to Appomattox Court House

The Civil War started because of uncompromising differences between the free and slave states over the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states. When Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election as the first Republican President on a platform pledging to keep slavery out of the territories, South Carolina legislature passed the "Ordinance of Secession," which declared that "the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved."  Within six weeks, five more Southern states - Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana - had followed South Carolina's lead and formed a new nation, the Confederate States of America. Former Union general, Jefferson Davis, was selected as it's first President. Within a few months, five more slave states seceded and joined the Confederacy.  Predictability, the incoming Lincoln administration, and most of the...

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The Civil War Began and Ended at the Same Guy’s House

The Civil War Began and Ended at the Same Guy’s House

When a war breaks out on your front lawn, and your chimney explodes from enemy fire, it’s time to find a new place to live. Neighborhoods like those are no place to raise children. That was Wilmer McLean’s opinion in the Civil War, anyway. That’s exactly what he did when the Battle of Bull Run erupted in front of his property.  The Confederate Army and the Union Army in the Civil War The real fighting didn’t break out until three months later when the Confederate Army and the Union Army met in the first real engagement of the Civil War at the First Battle of Bull Run… or the First Manassas, depending on which side you were on. They’re the same battle.  Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard commandeered the house of a local man named Wilmer McLean as a headquarters during the battle. As the general and McLean sat in his dining room during the battle, a Union cannonball hit McLean’s chimney, the shot falling right into the fireplace. Beauregard thought it was comical. McLean didn’t...

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Sergeant Reckless: America’s War Horse

Sergeant Reckless: America’s War Horse

The young filly showed great promise every time she ran a race. Many believed she would be a prize winner. But she never got the chance. In June 1950, North Korean troops stormed across the border between South Korea in a surprise attack that changed life on the Korean Peninsula. It also brought the sport of horseracing to a standstill. With no races to run, owning racehorses became a financial liability for their owners. Like many others, she was abandoned at the Seoul racetrack. A young Korean stable boy named Kim Huk Moon took overfeeding, watering and grooming her. Why Did Kim Sell His Horse? In October 1952 some U.S. Marines from the 5th Marines' Anti-Tank Company's Recoilless Rifle Platoon discovered the young filly and decided she'd be valuable for carrying supplies into combat. The platoon leader, Lt. Eric Pederson, paid $250 of his own money to buy her. The only reason Kim sold his beloved horse was so he could buy an artificial leg for his older sister, Chung Soon, who lost...

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Past Presidents Who Served In The Military

Past Presidents Who Served In The Military

Looking Back at Past Presidents Who Served in the Military With the blood and fire in which the United States was forged, it is unsurprising that, looking back at past Presidents who served in the military, the number is a considerable one. Whether leading the US Army during the War of Independence in the 18th century or serving in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, almost two thirds of all men who have acted as Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces have also previously served in the military in some capacity. How Many Presidents Are Military Veterans ? Of the 45 people to have been Presidents of the United States (Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th President), 31 of them have military experience of some form or another. This military tradition was founded in 1789, when George Washington, former Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, was elected President in 1789. His Vice President and successor John Adams, however, had no such...

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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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BG William Douglas Dunham, U.S. Air Force (1941-1970)

BG William Douglas Dunham, U.S. Air Force (1941-1970)

Brigadier General William Douglas Dunham was a highly decorated US Air Force hero. His achievements during World War II and beyond are well-documented. However, his most notable act arguably concerns an act of kindness rather than aggression. William Douglas Dunham Spared His Enemy's Life Back when he was a Major in 1944, Bill "Dinghy" Dunham - approaching his mid-twenties - was at the controls of a Republic P-47D. Flying over the Philippine Sea, he had a clear shot at a Japanese parachutist making a descent. The pilot was a sitting or rather falling duck. Dunham put him in that position in the first place, having shot down his Nakajima Ki-43. Now all he needed to do was deliver the killer blow. Fresh in his mind was the brutality of the Imperial Japanese Forces. They'd been known to attack pilots dangling from their parachutes. Dunham may well have felt anger growing inside him, seeing a natural opportunity to take revenge on his ruthless opposition. An eye for an eye. Then...

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4 Vietnam War Myths Civilians Believe

4 Vietnam War Myths Civilians Believe

Movies and television have painted a deeply embedded picture of Vietnam veterans in the American collective consciousness. Somehow, despite the numerous books, articles, and documentaries produced about the war and those who fought it, some of them are simply untrue. The false ideas aren't just small myths, either. These misconceptions paint a distorted picture of who fought in Vietnam and the ability of the enemy and shaped how we perceived war for decades after the conflict ended. Here are the most common myths about the Vietnam War that civilians really believe, along with the truth about them. The U.S. Won Every Battle of the Vietnam War But Still Lost the War If anyone told this myth to the veterans who fought at Lang Vei in 1968, Kham Duc later that same year, or Fire Support Base Ripcord in 1970, they'd probably get a sharp, curt history lesson in logistics and math. Movies and television make it seem like the Viet Cong (VC), and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) attacked in...

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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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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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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 History of Bob Hope USO Shows

The History of Bob Hope USO Shows

Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the USO knows a little about the history of Bob Hope’ USO shows. Since 1941, the United Service Organizations has provided support to the service members of the United States military. At all stages of a service member’s active duty and even beyond, USO volunteers are ready to provide support.  At enlistmentOn deploymentWith their familiesAway from homeWhen injured in serviceReturning to civilian life The History of Bob Hope USO Shows Bob Hope’s USO shows were a staple for many decades, entertaining generations of military personnel in the United States Armed Forces. Driving Force Behind the USO Tours Though he wore many hats as an entertainer, starting out as a dancer, film actor, and radio comedian, Bob Hope is perhaps best remembered as the driving force behind the USO tours that featured the United States’ greatest entertainers traveling to show their support for the troops and lift the spirits of those fighting on the front lines. This...

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Rise and Fall of the SR-71 Blackbird

Rise and Fall of the SR-71 Blackbird

During the last few years of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union - both long weary of the other - became unlikely allies against Adolf Hitler's takeover of Eastern Europe. Following the defeat of German in 1945, however, the wartime allies became mortal enemies, locked in a global struggle to prevail militarily, ideologically, and politically in a new "Cold War." To learn of the other side's military and technical capabilities, their actions and intentions, both sides used spies to gather information and intelligence about their enemy. Alarmed over rapid developments in military technology by his Communist rivals, President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a plan to gather information about Soviet capabilities and intentions using reconnaissance aircraft.  Thus became the birth of the U-2 spy planes. Beginning in 1956, U-2 spy planes were making reconnaissance flights over the Soviet Union, giving the U.S. its first detailed look at Soviet military facilities....

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