Great Military Stories

The Only Woman Ever to Join the French Foreign Legion

The Only Woman Ever to Join the French Foreign Legion

By Shahan Russell The Legion Etrangere is better known as the French Foreign Legion - a military organization open to men who are foreign nationals. In 1945, however, the Legion made one exception (and so far, the only one) for a very deserving person. Susan Mary Gillian Travers was born in London on September 23, 1909, to a wealthy family. Her father was Francis Eaton Travers, a Royal Navy Admiral, who married the heiress Eleanor Catherine Turnbull for her money. Theirs was not a happy home,...

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Sgt Alvin York, USA (1941–1947) – Medal of Honor Recipient

Sgt Alvin York, USA (1941–1947) – Medal of Honor Recipient

Sergeant Alvin York was seemingly born to a hardscrabble existence and anonymity in death, but World War One changed that forever. The story of York is one that twists and turns like the Mississippi river as he went through redemption and battled personal demons. At the end of it, all was the story that could have secured fame, finance, and his future - but York turned his back on it all to go back to the simple life and try and make a positive impact on the community in which he lived. York's...

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MajGen Smedley Butler, U.S. Marine Corps (1898–1931) – Medal of Honor Recipient

MajGen Smedley Butler, U.S. Marine Corps (1898–1931) – Medal of Honor Recipient

Smedley Butler may be the best-known double Medal of Honor recipient and one of the most popular military Generals in U.S. history. Butler served 33 years in the Marine Corps and had a role in the Spanish-American War in Cuba, the Philippine-American War in Manila, the Boxer Rebellion in China, the Banana Wars in the Caribbean, the Mexican Revolution, and World War I. Butler's first Medal of Honor was earned during the Mexican Revolution when the then-major fought block to block in the streets...

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Japanese Tried A Second Raid on Pearl Harbor

Japanese Tried A Second Raid on Pearl Harbor

Everyone knows about the first bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Less well known, however, was the second attack. And there was almost a third. The first one was just a warm-up. The Imperial Japanese Navy planned several more attacks on the U.S. mainland - starting with California and Texas. It was called Ke-Sakusen (Operation Strategy), better known as "Operation K." Its aim was four-fold: (1) to assess the damage at Pearl Harbor; (2) to stop the ongoing rescue and...

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The Battle of Saipan (1944)

The Battle of Saipan (1944)

War inevitably equals mass casualties, whether numbering in the dozens or the hundreds, or the hundreds of thousands - this truth that has accompanied war for thousands of years. A generally accepted fact is that these casualties, whether civilian or military, are usually the direct result of enemy soldiers attacking, disease, and famine in the wake of an invasion. Sometimes, however, other means account for mass deaths in war. Such was the case of Saipan's Battle in the Second World War when...

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Col Merryl Tengesdal, U.S. Air Force (1994-2017) – U2 Pilot

Col Merryl Tengesdal, U.S. Air Force (1994-2017) – U2 Pilot

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Merryl Tengesdal is the first African American female U-2 pilot in history and is the first African American woman to fly the Air Force's U-2 Dragon Lady Spy Plane. She is the only black woman alongside five white women and two black men to fly spy planes. Tengesdal was born Merryl David in 1971 in the Bronx, New York. She excelled in math and science classes in grade school and high school and graduated from the University of New Haven in Connecticut in 1994...

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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...

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Vietnam War’s Longest Continuously Serving Ranger Dies at 77

Vietnam War’s Longest Continuously Serving Ranger Dies at 77

A 30-year Army veteran who was the longest continuously serving Ranger in Vietnam and one of the war's most decorated enlisted soldiers died. Patrick Gavin Tadina served in Vietnam for over five years straight between 1965 and 1970, leading long-range reconnaissance patrols deep into enemy territory - often dressed in black pajamas and sandals and carrying an AK-47. The retired Command Sergeant Major died May 29, 2020, in North Carolina. He was 77. "Early this morning, my Dad ... took his...

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The Bombing of Balikpapan: August 13-18, 1943

The Bombing of Balikpapan: August 13-18, 1943

In the early morning hours of August 13, 1943, twelve US B-24 Liberators from the 380th Bombardment Group (also known as the Flying Circus), began a low approach over the harbor of Balikpapan, Borneo. They were about to break records for the longest bombing run in history. Their 17-hour non-stop flight would take the Japanese completely by surprise and result in destruction in Balikpapan. Intelligence had suggested that Balikpapan refineries were producing half of Japan’s WWII aviation fuel....

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PFC Harold Agerholm, U.S. Marine Corps (1942-1944) – Medal of Honor Recipient

PFC Harold Agerholm, U.S. Marine Corps (1942-1944) – Medal of Honor Recipient

Harold C. Agerholm had a quiet start to his life. After qualifying from school in Racine, Wisconsin, he worked as a multigraph operator for the Ranch Manufacturing Company. Then in July 1942, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve. Upon completing his recruit training in San Diego, California, Agerholm was sent to the Headquarters and Service Battery, 4th Battalion, 10th Marines, and 2nd Marine Division. He received further training for eleven months with his battalion in Wellington, New Zealand....

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