Flight 19-The Lost squadron

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The Bermuda Triangle’s reputation as a boat and plane-devouring chasm was first sealed in December 1945, when a group of five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo bombers known as “Flight 19” vanished in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida. No sign of the Avengers was ever found, and a Navy seaplane sent to rescue them also disappeared without a trace.

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At 2:10 p.m., five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo-bombers comprising Flight 19 take off from the Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station in Florida on a routine three-hour training mission. Flight 19 was scheduled to take them due east for 120 miles, north for 73 miles, and then back over a final 120-mile leg that would return them to the naval base. They never returned.

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Flight 19 was a training flight with five TBM Avengers or Torpedo Bombers and was led by Commander Charles Taylor. Each was a 3-seater plane, very robust, safe and US Navy’s best bombing planes to destroy enemy submarines. It could carry up to 2,000 pounds of bombing ammunitions and had a range of 1,000 miles.

Other than Taylor, there were 13 others in the flight (in different planes) but were all trainees. Taylor was the only experienced pilot. On December 5, 1945 at 2:10 p.m., the five Avengers of Flight 19 took off one after the other from the Naval Air Station (NAS) of Fort Lauderdale at Florida for a routine training session. It was a clear day.

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At first, Flight 19’s hop proceeded just as smoothly as the previous 18 that day. Taylor and his pilots buzzed over Hens and Chickens Shoals around 2:30 p.m. and dropped their practice bombs without incident.
But shortly after the patrol turned north for the second leg of its journey, something very strange happened.
For reasons that are still unclear, Taylor became convinced that his Avenger’s compass was malfunctioning and that his planes had been flying in the wrong direction.
The troubles only mounted after a front blew in and brought rain, gusting winds and heavy cloud cover. Flight 19 became hopelessly disoriented. “I don’t know where we are,” one of the pilots said over the radio. “We must have got lost after that last turn.”

As the weather deteriorated, radio contact became intermittent, and it was believed that the five aircraft were actually by that time more than 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) out to sea east of the Florida peninsula. Taylor radioed “We’ll fly 270 degrees west until landfall or running out of gas” and requested a weather check at 17:24. By 17:50 several land-based radio stations had triangulated Flight 19’s position as being within a 100 nmi (120 mi; 190 km) radius of 29°N 79°W; Flight 19 was north of the Bahamas and well off the coast of central Florida, but nobody transmitted this information on an open, repetitive basis.

At 18:04, Taylor radioed to his flight “Holding 270, we didn’t fly far enough east, we may as well just turn around and fly east again”. By that time, the weather had deteriorated even more and the sun had since set. Around 18:20, Taylor’s last message was received. (It has also been reported that Taylor’s last message was received at 19:04.)He was heard saying “All planes close up tight … we’ll have to ditch unless landfall … when the first plane drops below 10 gallons, we all go down together.

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As it became obvious the flight was lost, air bases, aircraft, and merchant ships were alerted. A Consolidated PBY Catalina departed after 18:00 to search for Flight 19 and guide them back if they could be located. After dark, two Martin PBM Mariner flying boats originally scheduled for their own training flights were diverted to perform square pattern searches in the area west of 29°N 79°W. US Navy Squadron Training No. 49 PBM-5 BuNo 59225 took off at 19:27 from Naval Air Station Banana River (now Patrick Air Force Base), called in a routine radio message at 19:30 and was never heard from again.

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At 21.15, the tanker SS Gaines Mills reported it had observed flames from an apparent explosion leaping 100 ft (30 m) high and burning for 10 minutes, at position 28.59°N 80.25°W.

Captain Shonna Stanley reported unsuccessfully searching for survivors through a pool of oil and aviation gasoline. The escort carrier USS Solomons also reported losing radar contact with an aircraft at the same position and time.

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The disappearance of the 14 men of Flight 19 and the 13 men of the Mariner led to one of the largest air and seas searches to that date, and hundreds of ships and aircraft combed thousands of square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and remote locations within the interior of Florida.

No trace of the bodies or aircraft was ever found.

Although naval officials maintained that the remains of the six aircraft and 27 men were not found because stormy weather destroyed the evidence, the story of the “Lost Squadron” helped cement the legend of the Bermuda Triangle, an area of the Atlantic Ocean where ships and aircraft are said to disappear without a trace.

The Bermuda Triangle is said to stretch from the southern U.S. coast across to Bermuda and down to the Atlantic coast of Cuba and Santo Domingo.

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MiG 21 crash into a apartment block.

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There you are having your minding your own and before you know it there is a MiG 21 parked in your living room. This is what happened to some inhabitants of  the Plattenbau” building, Cottbus, East Germany.

On January 14th, 1975, Major Peter Makowicka, 33, wass on a training mission with his Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 21 SPS „849“. During approach on the military airbase Cottbus, German Democratic Republic (Eastern Germany), a cover latch on the engine compressor section, which has been insufficiently secured by a maintenance technician, opens. The engine draws air and switches off. He receives the order to deploy the ejection seat to save himself and let the plane go down.

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Immediately after the distress, the military control center ordered the pilot to deploy the ejection seat to save himself and to let the plane go down. But Major Makovicka disobeyed, instead he pulled up to prevent the plane from crashing into the TKC (Textile Combinate Cottbus) with its thousands of workers, intending to let the plane crash into an empty field instead. There was no time to get that far away. In the residential area behind the factory site, the aircraft grazed the roof of a building and at 10.15 am pierced a “Plattenbau” (a 5-story large-panel system building) across the street. Mackovicka and five women were killed on the spot.

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The plane had hit the second floor of the apartment block. The fire had spread from the basement to the 4th floor. It was unknown whether the plane carried ammo. However the fire chief correctly deduced acute danger from explosions. It was decided to attack the fire with from the street side and to evacuate the other entries. The decisions later prove to be right. The firefighters discovered that the plane still carried more than 800 liters of fuel. Upon impact, all four tanks had ruptured and the entire fuel escaped instantaneously, explaining the intensive burn and multiple, deflagration-like flare-ups on the 1st to 4th floors.

One hour and 15 minutes after the crash, the fire was, by and large, extinguished. All in all, 200-300 firefighters, police, medics and NVA soldiers were on the scene. Sixteen residents suffered severe injuries, many had jumped out of the windows in panic. One woman died in hospital, raising the death toll of the accident to 7.

The area was sealed off hermetically. Two days later, only a patch in the wall remained as evidence for what happened. The official news agency ADN reported only that a plane crashed, killing six people U5dsRS1mAr8A7hdECmsVVGrDmMTbwbo_1680x8400— and that an official commission has been tasked with the investigation.

 

The technician who failed to close the latch properly was sentenced to five years in jail. Major Peter Makowicka, likely the only NVA (National People’s Army) hero ever to disobey an order, posthumously received the Kampforden für Verdienste um Volk und Vaterland in Gold (Combat medal for the merits for the People and Fatherland) and other awards.

 

The building, Schmellwitzer Straße 2, Cottbus, stands to this day.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks

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Vietnam War

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It is often though that the Vietnam war started in the 60s, but in fact it dates back much further then that.

It really started on the 19th of December 1946. In February Ho Chi Minh had already sent a telegram  to U.S. President Harry S. Truman requesting support for independence.

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The First Indochina War (December 1946 to August 1954) saw the Viet Minh and French colonial forces battle for control of Vietnam. In the West this conflict is called the First Indochina War; in Vietnam it is referred to as the Anti-French War.

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The Second Indochina War which is more commonly referred to as the Vietnam War began in 1955 and lasted until 1975 when the North Vietnamese conquered South Vietnam. The United States, which had supported France during the first Indochina war, backed the South Vietnam government in opposition to the National Liberation Front and the Communist-allied NVA. The North benefited from military and financial support from China and the Soviet Union, members of the Communist bloc.

Following are pictures of the Vietnam war.

Hovering U.S. Army helicopters pour machine gun fire into a tree line to cover the advance of South Vietnamese ground troops in an attack on a Viet Cong camp 18 miles north of Tay Ninh, near the Cambodian border, in March of 1965.

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An American officer serving with the South Vietnam forces poses with group of Montagnards in front of one of their provisionary huts in a military camp in central Vietnam on November 17, 1962. They were brought in by government troops from a village where they were used as labor force by communist Viet Cong forces. The Montagnards, dark-skinned tribesmen numbering about 700,000, live in the highlands of central Vietnam. The government was trying to win their alliance in its war with the Viet Cong.

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U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson listens to a tape recording from his son-in-law Captain Charles Robb at the White House on July 31, 1968. Robb was a U.S. Marine Corps company commander in Vietnam at the time.

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Smoke rises from the southwestern part of Saigon on May 7, 1968, as residents stream across the bridge leaving into the capital to escape heavy fighting between the Viet Cong and South Vietnamese soldiers

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Flying low over the jungle, an A-1 Skyraider drops 500-pound bombs on a Viet Cong position below as smoke rises from a previous pass at the target, on December 26, 1964.

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FBI agents carry Vietnam War draft resister Robert Whittington Eaton, 25, from a dwelling in Philadelphia on April 17, 1969, where Eaton had chained himself to 13 young men and women. The agent leading the way pushed one of the group who tried to block path to the sidewalk. At least six young persons were taken away with Easton.

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A trooper of the 101st Airborne Division attempts to save the life of a buddy at Dong Ap Bia Mountain, near South Vietnam’s A Shau Valley on May 19, 1969. The man was seriously wounded in the last of repeated attempts by U.S. forces to capture enemy positions there.

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Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees crowd a U.S. helicopter which evacuated them from immediate combat zone of the U.S.-Vietnamese incursion into Cambodia on May 5, 1970. They were taken to a refugee reception center at the Katum Special Forces camp in South Vietnam, six miles from the Cambodian border.

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A father holds the body of his child as South Vietnamese Army Rangers look down from their armored vehicle on March 19, 1964. The child was killed as government forces pursued guerrillas into a village near the Cambodian border.

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With the persuasion of a Viet Cong-made spear pressed against his throat, a captured Viet Cong guerrilla decided to talk to interrogators, telling them of a cache of Chinese grenades on March 28, 1965. He was captured with 13 other guerrillas and 17 suspects when two Vietnamese battalions overran a Viet Cong camp about 15 miles southwest of Da Nang air force base.

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Flag-draped coffins of eight American Servicemen killed in attacks on U.S. military installations in South Vietnam, on February 7, are placed in transport plane at Saigon, February 9, 1965, for return flight to the United States. Funeral services were held at the Saigon Airport with U.S. Ambassador Maxwell D. Taylor and Vietnamese officials attending.

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A Vietnamese battalion commander, Captain Thach Quyen, left, interrogates a captured Viet Cong suspect on Tan Dinh Island, Mekong Delta, in 1965.

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A Vietnamese litter bearer wears a face mask to keep out the smell as he passes the bodies of U.S. and Vietnamese soldiers killed in fighting against the Viet Cong at the Michelin rubber plantation, about 45 miles northeast of Saigon, on November 27, 1965.

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The released prisoner of war Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Stirm is greeted by his family at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, as he returns home from the Vietnam War, March 17, 1973. In the lead is Stirm’s daughter Lori, 15; followed by son Robert, 14; daughter Cynthia, 11; wife Loretta and son Roger, 12. This famous photo, also called “Burst of Joy,” won a Pulitzer Prize in 1974. The happy scene depicted here was not to last, however. Stirm, after spending five years in captivity, had received a “Dear John” letter from his wife Loretta, just three days before returning home. They divorced in 1974

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Shot for trying to go to another part of the City.

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Erected in the dead of night on August 13, 1961, the Berlin Wall (known as Berliner Mauer in German) was a physical division between West Berlin and East Germany. Its purpose was to keep disaffected East Germans from fleeing to the West.

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When the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, its destruction was nearly as instantaneous as its creation. For 28 years, the Berlin Wall had been a symbol of the Cold War and the Iron Curtain between Soviet-led Communism and the democracies of the West. When it fell, it was celebrated around the world.

During 1961 and 1989 many people were killed for trying to escape to West Berlin. The exact number of casualties is unknown, because some were categorized as “suicide”

Below are some pictures of some of those who didn’t make it or were wounded.

A refugee runs during an attempt to escape from the East German part of Berlin to West Berlin by climbing over the Berlin Wall on October 16, 1961.I don’t know  if he survived

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East German border guards carry away a refugee who was wounded by East German machine gun fire as he dashed through communist border installations toward the Berlin Wall in 1971.

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Dying Peter Fechter is carried away by East German border guards who shot him down when he tried to flee to the west in this August 17, 1962 photo. Fechter was lying 50 minutes in no-man’s land before he was taken to a hospital where he died shortly after arrival.

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East German border guards carry away a 50 year old refugee, who was shot three times by East German border police on September 4, 1962, as he dashed through communist border installations and tried to climb the Berlin wall in the cemetery of the Sophien Church.

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West Berlin’s regulatory authorities gave fugitives covering fire if they were being fired at by GDR border guards. This resulted in at least one lethal incident on 23 May 1962, when the border guard Peter Göring was shot dead by a West Berlin policeman.

Newspaper story about Peter Göring

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When nuclear radiation was harmless-Not!!

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Most people will have heard of the “Manhattan Project” it was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada.

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Despite the data gathered from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing, the nuclear testing were still conducted in an extremely reckless manner far in to the 1950s and 1960s.

The picture on the top shows five air force officers standing directly below ground zero for an atmospheric nuclear test. 18,500 feet above their heads, a two-kiloton atomic bomb is about to go off.

Their goal is to prove that these nuclear tests are safe. When an NPR reporter tried to look into these men’s fate, the photographer told them, “Quite a few have died from cancer. No doubt it was related to the testing.”

A pig is placed into an aluminum barrel before a nuclear test.
This pig, and others like it, were placed in barrels in various places around ground zero for various nuclear tests so that researchers could study the effects of radiation on living things.

San Antonio, Texas. 1957

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Just after a nuclear bomb was detonated, two soldiers use their hands to frame the mushroom cloud for the camera.

Nye County, Nevada. May 1, 1952.

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An “atomic pin-up girl” at a Las Vegas party dances for the camera while a nuclear bomb explodes behind her.

Nevada. April 6, 1953.

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Military men watch as the mushroom cloud from a nuclear blast drifts up overhead.

Nye County, Nevada. April 22, 1952

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The U.S. Army 11th Airborne Division sit and watch the mushroom cloud rise.

Yucca Flats, Nevada. November 1, 1951.

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From a parking lot in Nevada, miles away from the test site, a mushroom cloud is still visible. Radioactive particles can be seen drifting through the air, toward the neighboring towns.

Frenchman Flat, Nevada. June 24, 1957.

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After the first nuclear test in Bikini Atoll, a man is put through a medical examination to see how being exposed to radiation has affected him.

Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands.

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A mushroom cloud erupts over Bikini Atoll during a nuclear test. July 25, 1946.

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The people of Bikini Atoll are relocated to the nearby island of Rognerik Atoll so that the U.S. Government can continue nuclear testing.

Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. March 7, 1946.

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A crowd, mostly news correspondents, lines up to hop on the bus so they can watch an “Open Shot” nuclear test.

“Open Shot” tests were open to the public. Reporters and dignitaries were invited to come out to the Nevada desert and watch a nuclear bomb explode.

Las Vegas, Nevada. March 16, 1953.

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“Explosives,” reads a warning sign, one of the only lines of defense keeping civilians from wandering onto the site of an underground nuclear test.

Lamar County, Mississippi. September 1964.

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Photographers set up their camera to film the first ever nuclear test to appear on national television.

Nye County, Nevada. April 1952.

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An audience at an “Open Shot” nuclear test gaze up in excitement to watch a nuclear bomb explode.

Nye County, Nevada. April 6, 1955

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Marines participating in a nuclear test run their morning exercises around the Nevada Proving Grounds.

Nye County, Nevada. June 22, 1957.

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A Goodyear Blimp, flying five miles away from ground zero, crashes into the ground, torn down by the heat of the blast.

Nye County, Nevada. August 7, 1957.

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The USS Independence after being stationed too close to a nuclear test.

Navy officers are on the ship, trying to study its remains and salvage what’s left of it.

Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. July 23, 1946.

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Germany re-united 3-10-1990

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I am not going too deep into the re-unification of Germany. I will leave the images do the talking.BRD-DDR

German reunification (Deutsche Wiedervereinigung) took place on October 3, 1990, when the areas of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR, in English commonly called “East Germany”) were incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, in English commonly called “West Germany”), both formed in 1949, after World War II.

Below are some images of that day and some events leading up to it

 

 

 

 

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The Fall fo the Berlin Wall

 

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Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate, 10 November 1989. Note the graffito Wie denn (“What now”) over the sign warning the public that they are leaving West Berlin.

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Police officers of the East German Volkspolizei wait for the official opening of the Brandenburg Gate on 22 December 1989.

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Leipzig

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Berlin Wall, October 1990, Saying “Thank You, Gorbi”Германия становится единой страной.

Many Trabants were abandoned after 1989 (this one photographed in Leipzig, 1990)

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East German Prime Minister Hans Modrow, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and mayor of West Berlin Walter Momper among other figures take part in the official opening of the Brandenburg Gate on 22 December 1989.

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When did WWII really end-Was the cold war really cold?

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It can be argued that WWII never really ended or that the cold war wasn’t really all that cold. Immediately after WWII, in fact technically still during the War in the Pacific,Indonesia declared it’s independence triggering an armed conflict with the Dutch and British.

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Under pressure from radical and politicised pemuda (‘youth’) groups, Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed Indonesian independence, on 17 August 1945, two days after the Japanese Emperor’s surrender in the Pacific. The following day, the Central Indonesian National Committee (KNIP) elected Sukarno as President, and Hatta as Vice-President. It lasted until 1949.

War in Vietnam (September 13, 1945 – March 30, 1946)

The War in Vietnam, codenamed Operation Masterdomb, was a post–World War II armed conflict involving a largely British-Indian and French task force and Japanese troops from the Southern Expeditionary Army Group, versus the Vietnamese communist movement, the Viet Minh, for control of the country, after the unconditional Japanese surrender.

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The Korean War

On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began when some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War. By July, American troops had entered the war on South Korea’s behalf. As far as American officials were concerned, it was a war against the forces of international communism itself.

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In July 1951, President Truman and his new military commanders started peace talks at Panmunjom. Still, the fighting continued along the 38th parallel as negotiations stalled. Both sides were willing to accept a ceasefire that maintained the 38th parallel boundary, but they could not agree on whether prisoners of war should be forcibly “repatriated.” (The Chinese and the North Koreans said yes; the United States said no.) Finally, after more than two years of negotiations, the adversaries signed an armistice on July 27, 1953. The agreement allowed the POWs to stay where they liked; drew a new boundary near the 38th parallel that gave South Korea an extra 1,500 square miles of territory; and created a 2-mile-wide “demilitarized zone” that still exists today.

The Indochina war.(19 December 1946 – 1 August 1954.)

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The  Indochina War (also  known as the First Indochina War in) began in French Indochina(Vietnam) on 19 December, 1946, and lasted until 1 August, 1954. Fighting between French forces and their Viet Minh opponents in the south dated from September 1945. The conflict pitted a range of forces, including the French Union’s French Far East Expeditionary Corps, led by France and supported by Emperor Bảo Đại’s Vietnamese National Army against the Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh and the People’s Army of Vietnam led by Vo Nguyen Giap. Most of the fighting took place in Tonkin in northern Vietnam, although the conflict engulfed the entire country and also extended to  French Indochina protectorates of Laos and Cambodia.

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Greek Civil War(30 March 1946 – 16 October 1949)

The first major military conflict of the Cold War. Communist rebels supported by Yugoslavia and other Communist nations fought against the pro-Western government of Greece, which was given significant support by the United States and Great Britain. The war ended with a government victory.

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The Vietnam War (1 November 1955 – 30 April 1975)

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The Vietnam War was a long, costly and divisive conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The conflict was intensified by the ongoing Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. More than 3 million people (including over 58,000 Americans) were killed in the Vietnam War, and more than half of the dead were Vietnamese civilians. Opposition to the war in the United States bitterly divided Americans, even after President Richard Nixon ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973. Communist forces ended the war by seizing control of South Vietnam in 1975, and the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the following year.

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Suez Crisis (29 October 1956 – 7 November 1956)

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On 29 October, Israel invaded the Egyptian Sinai. Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to cease fire, which was ignored. On 5 November, Britain and France landed paratroopers along the Suez Canal. The Egyptian forces were defeated, but they did block the canal to all shipping. It later became clear that the Israeli invasion and the subsequent Anglo-French attack had been planned beforehand by the three countries.

Congo Crisis (5 July 1960 – 25 November 1965)

The Congo Crisis was a period of political upheaval and conflict in the Republic of the Congo (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) between 1960 and 1965. It began almost immediately after the Congo became independent from Belgium and ended, unofficially, with the entire country under the rule of Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. Constituting a series of civil wars, the Congo Crisis was also a proxy conflict in the Cold War, in which the Soviet Union and United States supported opposing factions. Around 100,000 people are believed to have been killed during the crisis.

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Yom Kippur War (October 6–25, 1973)

The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War,also known as the 1973 Arab–Israeli War, was a war fought by a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria against Israel from October 6 to 25, 1973. The fighting mostly took place in the Sinai and the Golan Heights, territories that had been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat wanted also to reopen the Suez Canal. Neither specifically planned to destroy Israel, although the Israeli leaders could not be sure of that.

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Soviet–Afghan War (December 24, 1979 – February 15, 1989)

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The Soviet–Afghan War lasted over nine years, from December 1979 to February 1989. Insurgent groups known as the mujahideen fought against the Soviet Army and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Between 562,000 and 2,000,000 civilians were killed and millions of Afghans fled the country as refugees,mostly to Pakistan and Iran.

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The USSR entered neighboring Afghanistan in 1979, attempting to shore up the newly-established pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. In short order, nearly 100,000 Soviet soldiers took control of major cities and highways.

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Foreign support propped up the diverse group of rebels, pouring in from Iran, Pakistan, China, and the United States.

Falklands War (Apr 2, 1982 – Jun 14, 1982)

Falkland Islands Waralso called Falklands War, Malvinas War, or South Atlantic War, a brief undeclared war fought between Argentina and Great Britain in 1982 over control of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and associated island dependencies.

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 It began on Friday, 2 April 1982, when Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands  in an attempt to establish the sovereignty it had claimed over them. On 5 April, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982.

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The Yugoslav Wars/Balkan Wars (31 March 1991 – 11 June 1999)

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The Yugoslav Wars were a series of ethnically-based wars and insurgencies fought from 1991 to 1999 in the former Yugoslavia. These wars accompanied and facilitated the breakup of the Yugoslav state, when its constituent republics declared independence, but the issues of ethnic minorities in the new countries (chiefly Serbs, Croats and Albanians) were still unresolved at the time the republics were recognized internationally. The wars are generally considered to be a series of separate but related military conflicts which occurred in, and affected, most of the former Yugoslav republics.

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The conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia claimed more than 120,000 lives. In Bosnia alone more than half of those in the pre-war population were forced out of their homes, either in campaigns of ethnic cleansing or bids to find safety.

Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo was under siege for 44 months, during which its 350,000 residents struggled to get basic necessities. At least 10,000 were killed by sniping and shelling from Serbs in the surrounding mountains.

Thousands of people were held in camps on all three sides, where many were tortured, starved or executed. It is estimated that more than 20,000 women, mostly Muslims, were systematically raped.

The worst atrocity occurred in July 1995 when Bosnian Serb forces overran the eastern town of Srebrenica, slaughtering almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys in a massacre described by two international courts as genocide.

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I am limiting the wars to the last decades of the 20th century, although the Cold War ended with the fall of communism in the East bloc, the tensions that caused that conflicts never really ended and are currently flaring up again.

I left out the 1st Gulf war because that is basically still an unresolved issue and is still ongoing.

The 21st century has seen a great number of wars, some of them which are still ongoing. The current “World war” is the Global war on terror.

 

Urban Myths you just wished were true.

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Sometime you hear these stories or tall tales that turn out to be completely untrue or just have a small element of truth, and often the stories are repeated for year. Urban Myths is what they turn out to be, but sometimes you wish these Urban Myths or Legends were just true because they really spark your imagination.

Good luck, Mr. Gorsky

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The story being that while a child, Neil Armstrong , playing baseball, through an open window he heard his Neigbor Mrs. Gorsky yell at her husband: “Oral sex, you want oral sex? When the kid next door walks on the Moon!”

During November 1995, a clever (and slightly risqué) story was widely circulated on the Internet concerning a statement Neil is supposed to have made during the Apollo 11 EVA. At the suggestion of several readers, let me state that Neil never said “Good luck, Mr. Gorsky” at any time during the mission. Indeed, on November 28, 1995, Neil wrote for the ALSJ, “I understand that the joke is a year old. I first heard it in California delivered by (comedian) Buddy Hacket.

Walt Disney was cryogenically frozen

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This one may sound farfetched to some but this legend has been going around for decades. It is often said that legendary cartoonist, Walt Disney had himself frozen while waiting for a lung cancer cure, in hopes of returning to life once the cure was found. Taking it a step further, it is also said his body was cryo-preserved somewhere in the theme park, many believing under the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. This one unfortunately isn’t true. He was cremated after death – however, the first-ever cryogenic freezings did take place soon after his death.

The kidney heist

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In this tale, a young man is either seduced by a beautiful woman or pays for an escort. The following morning, he awakens in a bathtub full of ice to find one of his kidneys has been removed for sale on the black market.

Carrots Help You See in the Dark

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Eating carrots and other vegetables rich in vitamin A helps you see better at night.

This is a myth created by British Ministry of Information,during WWII, as a way to boost morale and make war-weary citizens feel like they could help the war effort by growing carrots that could, in turn, be sent to fighter pilots fighting the Germans. They also wanted children to feel like eating vegetables was better than eating sweets, which were strictly rationed.

Somehow it became common knowledge that eating carrots helped your night vision, but there’s really no science behind the claim.

The CIA’s Whale Parade

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During the Cold War, a rumor arose that the CIA had the unlikeliest agent on its roster: a dead fin whale named Goliath. Caught by Norwegian whalers in the 1950s, Goliath was mounted on a truck and toured all over Europe well in the 1960s. While already bizarre in itself (parading a dead whale is kind of weird), conspiracy theorists argued that the whole thing was a cover-up for more a more nefarious purpose, especially after the whale arrived in Hungary.

Allegedly, the CIA wanted to test if the roads of Hungary could handle the load of nuclear missiles loaded on trucks. To avoid arousing suspicion, they opted to substitute the dead whale for the missiles. The truck carrying the whale eerily resembled one used to carry nuclear missiles, according to conspiracy theorists.

No concrete proof was ever presented, and the Hungarian crowd loved Goliath. Tickets were sold out everywhere he went.

Philadelphia Experiment

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The Philadelphia Experiment is an alleged military experiment supposed to have been carried out by the U.S. Navy at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sometime around October 28, 1943. The U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS Eldridge (DE-173) was claimed to have been rendered invisible (or “cloaked”) to enemy devices.

The story first appeared in 1955, in letters of unknown origin sent to a writer and astronomer, Morris K. Jessup. It is widely understood to be a hoax;the U.S. Navy maintains that no such experiment was ever conducted, that the alleged details of the story contradict well-established facts about USS Eldridge, and that the claims do not conform to known physical laws.

The assassination of Glen Miller by the Gestapo.

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The famous American big band leader Glenn Miller, who died in a plane crash, was either killed by German agents, or accidentally blown up by British bombers dumping their bombs.

Miller, a Major in the US Army Air Force, was flying from England to Paris in late 1944 to give a concert for troops there when his plane crashed and all on board were killed. Hampered by bad weather and poor visibility, the small plane they were on was lost at sea, and vanished. Conspiracy theories abound that he was knocked off by German agents, or was the victim of friendly fire from British bomber aircraft, but they aren’t supported by evidence, only individual accounts that can’t be confirmed.

 

A leap into freedom

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Hans Conrad Schumann (March 28, 1942 – June 20, 1998) was an East German soldier who famously defected to West Germany during the construction of the Berlin Wall on 15 August 1961.

Conrad Schumann was immortalized in this photograph as he leapt across the barricade that would become the Berlin Wall. The photo was called “The Leap into Freedom”. It became an iconic image of the Cold War.

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Born in Zschochau, Saxony during the middle of World War II, he enlisted in the East German state police following his 18th birthday. Since he had always shown himself to be a loyal and hardworking young citizen of the German Democratic Republic, local military officials offered him an elite position in the paramilitary Bereitschaftspolizei or BePo (“riot police”), which was specifically conceived to suppress rebellion.

On 15 August 1961, the 19-year-old Schumann was sent to the corner of Ruppiner Strasse and Bernauer Strasse to guard the Berlin Wall on its third day of construction. At that time, the wall was only a low barbed wire fence. At the same spot, on the West Berlin, was standing the 19-year-old photographer Peter Leibing. For more than an hour, Leibing stood watching the nervous young non-commissioned officer as he paced back and forth, his PPSh-41 slung over his shoulder, smoking one cigarette after another. “Come on over, come on over!” (Komm’ rüber!) the West Berlin crowd on Bernauer Strasse chanted. “He’s going to jump!” one passerby remarked.

And at four p.m. on August 15, 1961, Leibing got lucky. Schumann tossed aside his cigarette, then turned and ran for the coil of barbed wire that marked the boundary between East and West. He jumped, flinging away his gun as he flew, and Leibing clicked the shutter.

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After the fall of the Berlin Wall he said, “Only since 9 November 1989 [the date of the fall] have I felt truly free.” Even so, he continued to feel more at home in Bavaria than in his birthplace, citing old frictions with his former colleagues, and was even hesitant to visit his parents and siblings in Saxony. On 20 June 1998, suffering from depression, he committed suicide, hanging himself in his orchard near the town of Kipfenberg in Upper Bavaria.

In May 2011, the photograph of Schumann’s “leap into freedom” was inducted into the UNESCO Memory of the World programme as part of a collection of documents on the fall of the Berlin Wall.

A sculpture called Mauerspringer (“Walljumper”) by Florian and Michael Brauer and Edward Anders could be seen close to the site of the defection,but has been moved since then to the side of a building on Brunnenstraße, several meters south of Bernauer Straße.

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The Thing-not the movie.

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The Thing, also known as The Great Seal Bug, was a passive covert listening device, developed in the Soviet Union and planted in the study of the US Ambassador in Moscow, hidden inside a wooden carving of the Great Seal of the United States. It is called a passive device as it does not have its own power source. Instead it is acivated by a strong electromagnetic signal from outside. The device was code named LOSS by the US and RAINDEER by the Soviets.

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On 4 August 1945, the Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer organization 1 presented a hand-carved replica of the Great Seal of the United States to US Ambassador Averell Harriman, as a gesture of friendship to the USSR’s World War II ally. It hung in the library at the Residency Spaso House.

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Unknown to the Americans however, the carving contained an HF radio bug of a novel design, in that it didn’t have its own power source and was not connected via wires. Instead, the device was illuminated by a strong radio signal from the outside, which powered and activated it. It gave the bug a virtually unlimited life and provided the Soviets with the best possible intelligence.

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The bug was finally discovered by the US State Department in 1952, three ambassadors later, during the tenure of Amb. George F. Kennan.

In 1951, a British radio operator was monitoring Russian air force radio traffic, when he suddenly picked up the voice of the British Air Attaché loud and clear, but a survey of the embassy did not reveal any hidden microphones. A similar thing happened to an American interceptor in 1952, when he overheared a conversation that appeared to come from the ambassador’s residency at Spaso House. After a search by the Department of State, the bug was finally discovered by means of a so-called crystal-video receiver , whilst the Russians were actively illuminating the bug.

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The device appeared to be hidden inside the wooden carving behind the ambassador’s desk, and resembled a cylindrical microphone with an antenne rod connected to it. Tiny holes in the wood under the eagle’s beak, guided the sound to the membrane of the bug that was mounted just behind it. When the Russians knew that an important meeting would take place, they parked an unmarked van in the vicinity of the residency 3 and illuminated the bug. A receiver, tuned to the bug’s resonant frequency, was then used to pick up the conversation in the ambassador’s office.

The discovery of the bug was kept secret for many years, until the 1960 U-2 incident . On 1 may 1960, the Soviets had shot down an American U-2 spy plane over Soviet airspace, as a result of which the Soviet Union convened a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, accusing the Americans of spying. On the 4th day of the meeting (26 May 1960), in an attempt to illustrate to the council that spying between the two nations was mutual, American Ambassador to the UN, Henry Cabot Lodge, revealed the Russian bugging device.

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The Thing consisted of a tiny capacitive membrane connected to a small quarter-wavelength antenna; it had no power supply or active electronic components. The device, a passive cavity resonator, became active only when a radio signal of the correct frequency was sent to the device from an external transmitter. This is currently referred in NSA parlance as “illuminating” a passive device. Sound waves (from voices inside the ambassador’s office) passed through the thin wood case, striking the membrane and causing it to vibrate. The movement of the membrane varied the capacitance “seen” by the antenna, which in turn modulated the radio waves that struck and were re-transmitted by the Thing. A receiver demodulated the signal so that sound picked up by the microphone could be heard, just as an ordinary radio receiver demodulates radio signals and outputs sound.

Theremin’s design made the listening device very difficult to detect, because it was very small, had no power supply or active electronic components, and did not radiate any signal unless it was actively being irradiated remotely. These same design features, along with the overall simplicity of the device, made it very reliable and gave it a potentially unlimited operational life.

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