Military Myths and Legends

The Forces Pin Up – GI Morale Boosters

The Forces Pin Up – GI Morale Boosters

America's entrance into World War II back in 1941 triggered the golden age of pinups, pictures of smiling women in a range of clothing-challenged situations. The racy photos adorned lonely servicemen's lockers, the walls of barracks, and even the sides of planes. For the first time in its history, the US military unofficially sanctioned this kind of art: pinup pictures, magazines, and calendars were shipped and distributed among the troops, often at government expense, to "raise morale" and remind the young men what they were fighting for. The heyday of the pinup was the 1940s and 50s, but pinup art is still around. To this day, pinup fans emulate the classic style in fashion, merchandise, photography, and even tattoos. The Second Most Popular Pin-up Picture in All of World War II Rita Hayworth's famous pose in a black negligee quickly made its way across the Atlantic in 1941, as troops brought the picture with them on the way to war. It ended up as the second most popular pin-up...

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Angels of Bataan

Angels of Bataan

When Americans woke up Sunday morning on December 7, 1941, they were stunned to learn Japanese naval aircraft had attacked Pearl Harbor. What they would soon find out that was only the beginning. Pearl Harbor was just one part of the Japanese plan for the day. Within hours, Japanese naval and ground forces attacked and invaded Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Singapore, Honk Kong, Thailand and Burma. Ten hours after the devastating surprise attack that crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor, Japanese planes launched the first in a deadly series of attacks on the Philippine Islands, bombing and strafing military airfields and bases in and around Manila. Caught in the air raids were ninety-nine army and navy women nurses. Immediately they rushed to their respective hospitals and began assisting with the endless flow of military and civilian casualties. It is almost certain that none ever dreamed they would be thrust into a deadly shooting war. Unknown to them and others was...

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Japanese Soldier Surrenders 30 Years After End of WWII

Japanese Soldier Surrenders 30 Years After End of WWII

By the summer of 1945, the Japanese navy and air force were destroyed. Its army had been decimated. The Allied naval blockade of Japan and intensive bombing of Japanese cities had left the country and its economy devastated, it's people suffering. After the Hiroshima atomic bomb attack, factions of Japan's supreme war council favored unconditional surrender but the majority resisted. When the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, the Japanese Emperor Hirohito told the supreme war council to negotiate the unconditional surrender. To the Japanese his word was that of a god.On Sunday, September 2, 1945, more than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay. Just after 9 a.m. on board the USS Missouri General Douglas MacArthur presided over the official surrender ceremony as Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed on behalf of the Japanese government. General Yoshijiro Umezu then signed for the Japanese armed forces. His aides wept as he made his signature. The most...

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MCPO Carl Maxie Brashear, U.S. Navy (1948-1979)

MCPO Carl Maxie Brashear, U.S. Navy (1948-1979)

Biography Carl Maxie Brashear came from humble beginnings, which gave no hint of the significant course his life would later take. Carl was the sixth of eight children born to sharecroppers McDonald and Gonzella Brashear in rural Tonieville, Kentucky, on January 19, 1931. Even though their home did not have electricity or running water, Brashear remembered a very happy childhood. The children found entertainment in telling jokes and playing with their father. Carl's great uncle was a preacher, and he attributed the family's endurance through difficult times to their strong Christian faith. At the age of 17, Carl Maxie Brashear had an interest in joining the Army but got his first taste of the prejudice rife in the military at the time at the hands of an abusive recruiter. Not to be dissuaded, Brashear met with a kind naval recruiter and passed the entrance exam that very day. On February 25, 1948, Brashear joined the US Navy shortly after all military branches had been desegregated...

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Largest Amphibious Invasions In Modern History

Largest Amphibious Invasions In Modern History

Battle of Inchon: The Battle of Inchon was an amphibious invasion and battle of the Korean War that resulted in a decisive victory and strategic reversal in favor of the United Nations. The operation involved some 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels and led to the recapture of the South Korean capital of Seoul two weeks later. The code name for the operation was Operation Chromite. The battle began on September 15, 1950, and ended on September 19th. Through a surprise, amphibious assault far from the Pusan Perimeter that United Nations and South Korean forces were desperately defending, the largely undefended city of Incheon was being bombed by UN forces from the air and from the allied ships off the coast of Incheon. On September 16th, in an attempt to stop the advance of the UN forces, North Korean People's Army (NKPA) sent six columns of T-34 tanks to the beachhead. They were quite alone, without infantry support. They were spotted by a strike force of F4U Corsairs at the village...

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Air Marshall William Bishop – WW1 Air Ace

Air Marshall William Bishop – WW1 Air Ace

Air Marshal William Avery "Billy" Bishop was a Canadian fighter pilot in WWI who crashed his plane during a practice run and was ordered to go back to flight school. He didn't. Instead, he went on to shoot down 72 enemy aircraft, making him a legend in his own time and earning him a Victoria Cross. Billy Bishop's Early Military Career Bishop's military career didn't start off well. He joined the Royal Military College of Canada in 1911, was caught cheating, and had to start his first year all over again. In 1914, he joined the Mississauga Horse cavalry regiment, but couldn't join them overseas because he caught pneumonia. Once he recovered, they transferred him to the 7th Canadian Mounted Rifles where he proved to be a born sniper, able to take out targets others could barely see. He finally boarded a ship for England on June 6, 1915 as part of a convoy that was attacked by German U-boats. Three hundred Canadians died in that attack, but Bishop's vessel was untouched. The surviving...

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Five Myths About The Vietnam War

Five Myths About The Vietnam War

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick say their multi-part PBS documentary about the Vietnam War was intended to unpack a complex conflict and to embark upon the process of healing and reconciliation. The series has catapulted the Vietnam War back into the national consciousness. But despite thousands of books, articles and films about this moment in our history, there remain many deeply entrenched myths about the Vietnam War. Vietnam War Myth NO. 1 - The Viet Cong Was a Scrappy Guerrilla Force Fighting a Superpower "Vastly superior in tools and techniques, and militarily dominant over much of the world," historian Ronald Aronson wrote about the hegemonic United States and the impudent rebels, "the Goliath sought to impose on David a peace favorable to his vision of the world." Recode recently compared the Viet Cong to Uber: "young, scrappy and hungry troops break rules and create new norms, shocking the enemy." In reality, the Viet Cong, the pro-North force in South Vietnam, was armed by both...

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The Last Airborne Deployment of WWII

The Last Airborne Deployment of WWII

In the early morning hours of March 24, 1945, a massive WWII airborne operation known as Operation Varsity launched with an attempt to deploy 17,000 American and British Airborne troops across the Rhine River. It was the largest single-day airborne operation in history. C-47 Transport Planes Release Hundreds of Paratroopers during Operation Varsity. In the final months of WWII, Western Allied Forces advanced east into Germany. This meant crossing numerous rivers, many of which no longer had standing bridges. The Rhine River was especially treacherous, with steep banks and swift currents, providing German forces with a natural defensive barrier. Planning got underway to deploy airborne forces on the east side of the Rhine. The principal mission was to seize and hold the high ground five miles north of Wesel, Germany, and to facilitate the ground action and establish a bridgehead. The soldiers would then hold the territory until the advancing units of the British 21st Army Group joined...

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Seven Myths About the Military

Seven Myths About the Military

War movies are great to watch and keep us on the edge of our seats with each powerful explosion, hidden sniper attack, and scandalous missions, but the U.S. Military has been shrouded in myth for too long. It’s time civilians quit believing the silly hype and learn more about the protectors of this nation. It would not hurt to ask a member of the military about the service instead of relying on multimillion-dollar Hollywood productions and music videos. Myth One: You need to be a perfect physical specimen to join the military You need to be a perfect physical specimen to join the military.  Surprisingly, enough, not every single member of the military has a 20/20 vision. If you have ever seen the recruits at basic training, you would think you walked into a Mr. Magoo cartoon. You will make you wish you were blessed with the genes of perfect vision, although it is definitely not required.  Myth Two: You would NEVER survive boot camp You would NEVER survive boot...

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Native American Contributions in the U.S. Military

Native American Contributions in the U.S. Military

Throughout American History, Native Americans have distinguished themselves with bravery and courage in military service to their country, often without enjoying the same rights and privileges afforded other soldiers.  During WWI, more than 10,000 Native Americans served in the American Expeditionary Force. The majority were volunteers, and most were not considered U.S. citizens. Only U.S. citizens were eligible for the draft. Despite this, the government required Native American men to register for the draft, causing frustration and sometimes rebellion. Many hoped their service would lead to the government granting them full U.S. citizenship. At the time, only Native Americans who accepted an allotment of land under the Dawes Act of 1887 received citizenship. As a result, thousands of Native Americans served before they even won the right to vote. It was during WWI that military officials realized the value of Native languages to transmit sensitive information. German officials...

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The Ship That Wouldn’t Die

The Ship That Wouldn’t Die

The USS Laffey (DD-724) was laid down 28 June 1943 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine. She was launched 21 November; sponsored by Miss Beatrice F. Laffey, daughter of Medal of Honor recipient S1c Bartlett Laffey. Commissioned 8 February 1944, Cdr. F. Julian. Becton as her first "Captain". Commander Frederick Julian Becton, Captain of the Destroyer USS Laffey After shakedown, the Laffey traveled the world in the war effort. She was off the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Off Cherbourg, France where an unexploded shell bounced off her hull above the waterline and did little damage. Rescuing a badly wounded Japanese pilot off the Philippines. Firing support in Leyete Gulf and Ormoc Bay. Transported intelligence to McArthur in the Philippines. Supported landings at Mindoro and Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Kerama Retto.  That is where this story begins. Commander Frederick Julian Becton, Captain of the destroyer USS Laffey (DD 724), took the radio message his communications officer handed...

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