Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Special Air Warfare And The Secret War In Laos

Sunday, August 18th, 2019

Air University Press has released “Special Air Warfare And The Secret War In Laos: Air Commandos 1964-75”. Download your copy at

Strike Hold! Presents: Operation Dragoon 75 – Dispatch from the Front

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of southern France, was originally supposed to be launched simultaneous to the invasion of Normandy – thus catching the Nazi forces in France and Western Europe between the horns of a two-pronged assault. However, due to there not being enough ships, aircraft, crews, and materiel to allow both invasions to happen simultaneously, the southern invasion was postponed.

Sometimes known as “The Forgotten D-Day”, Operation Dragoon (earlier known as “Operation Anvil”, whilst the Normandy invasion was known as “Sledgehammer”) was re-scheduled for mid-August 1944. By that time it was also clear to the Allied High Command that another way into, and through, France was necessary because the Normandy ports could not cope with the volume of supplies needed to keep the armies fed, armed, fueled, and moving.

The goals of Operation Dragoon were to secure the vital ports on the French Mediterranean coast and increase pressure on the German forces by opening another front. After some preliminary commando operations, the US VI Corps landed on the beaches of the Côte d’Azur under the shield of a large naval task force, followed by several divisions of the French Army B.

Allied forces were opposed by the scattered forces of the German Army Group G, which had been weakened by the relocation of its divisions to other fronts and the replacement of its soldiers with third-rate Ostlegione outfitted with obsolete equipment. Hindered by total Allied air superiority and a large-scale uprising by the French Resistance, the weak German forces were swiftly defeated.

The remaining German forces withdrew to the north through the Rhône valley, to establish a stable defense line at Dijon. Allied mobile units were able to overtake the Germans and partially block their route at the town of Montélimar. The ensuing battle led to a stalemate, with neither side able to achieve a decisive breakthrough, until the Germans were finally able to complete their withdrawal and retreat from the town. While the Germans were retreating, the French managed to capture the important ports of Marseille and Toulon, putting them into operation soon after.

The Germans were not able to hold Dijon and ordered a complete withdrawal from Southern France. Army Group G retreated further north, pursued by Allied forces. The fighting ultimately came to a stop at the Vosges mountains, where Army Group G was finally able to establish a stable defense line. After meeting with the Allied units from Operation Overlord, the Allied forces were in need of reorganizing and, facing stiffened German resistance, the offensive was halted on 14 September – one month to the day after the invasion.

Three days after the end of Operation Dragoon, on the 17th of September 1944, “Operation Market-Garden” was launched. With Operation Market-Garden the Allied Command sought to leapfrog over the German forces in The Netherlands – using airborne forces to capture key bridges over the Rhine – and then punch through into the industrial heartland of Germany.

Operation Dragoon was considered a success by the Allies. It enabled them to liberate most of Southern France in a time span of only four weeks, while inflicting heavy casualties on the German forces. Although a substantial part of the best German units were able to escape, the captured French ports were put into operation, allowing the Allies to solve their supply problems.

Article features some text and photos from Wikipedia.

This week marks the 75th Anniversary of Operation Dragoon, and once again our friends from the WWII Airborne Demonstration Team are on the ground and in the air doing what they do best – commemorating the brave troops of the Airborne Forces who were critical to the Allied victory. They recently posted a “Dispatch from the front lines” on their Facebook page, and we’d like to share that with you:

Dragoon Update—Photos from the front!

U.S. Army Airborne, British Airborne, and U.S. Marine Corps Airborne attached to the Office of Strategic Services—we’re privileged to be honoring them all! These units were part of the Allied 1st Airborne Task Force represented by our team members here.

The 1st Airborne Task Force was a short-lived airborne unit created specifically for Operation Dragoon–the invasion of Southern France. The combined unit strength was 9,000 men. It consisted of a near-random grouping of parachute infantry regiments, many of which had served in Italy and which were accustomed to the mountainous terrain of Southern France. During Dragoon, most landed in drop zones like the one seen here. Forests and mountains made the area dangerous, but also forced units to be split apart, testing their true abilities as Airborne infantry.

Among the units we honored during our jump on Monday was the 551st Parachute Infantry Regiment. Virtually nothing of the 551st’s history was known to the American public until a renewed interest in the unit in the 1990’s prompted veterans to seek recognition for it. The 551st was originally commissioned to capture the French Island of Martinique which was being used as a supply station for Nazi U-Boats. The 551st trained in secret in Panama far away from the more famous Airborne regiments. The invasion of Martinique was called off, but Operation Dragoon put the 551st on French soil, nevertheless.

On the fog-blanketed morning of August 15th, the 551st parachuted into a drop zone not far where we are shown here. Immediately the 551st liberated the town of Draguignan and a week later, Nice.

During the Battle of the Bulge this outlier within the Airborne community was summoned to take the fight to the enemy in the north. Assigned to move through the American lines and infiltrate four miles into Nazi occupied territory, the 551st achieved every objective assigned—but at a terrible cost. It entered the battle on January 3, 1945. By January 6, it had lost 85% of its troops. Of its 643 men only 14 Officers and 96 men lived to see the 551st’s victory.

The unit was famous for an acronym that many on our team take pride in sharing: GOYA. We’ll let you look that up. But it sums up a simple formula for life success. Of all the motivational messages and themes out there, we think the 551st had it right—one of the many reasons we admire them and want to make sure that their story stays alive to inspire others.

Special thanks to our friends and brothers at French Airborne Command for inviting us to join them and for making this jump possible. To the memory of all who served in 1st Airborne Task Force and to the 551st, we salute you! Airborne All The Way!

Photos by WWII ADT, Ville du Muy and by Jean-michel Maurel via Airborne Command

Originally published by

MOLLE Instructional Video

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

In the late 1990s the US Marine Corps were the initial adopters of the Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment or MOLLE. Imagine being a Marine PFC and getting issued a big plastic bag full of pouches, with straps flopping everywhere, along with a VHS tape and told to have it all ready for a ruck march the next morning.

OV Innovations uploaded a copy to YouTube. It’s an absolute must-see for any serious gear historian.

Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan

Friday, July 19th, 2019

The Battle of Long Tan is iconic in the Australian and New Zealand experience in the Vietnam War. A labor of love, this project has been a development for over 10 years.

In August 1966, in a Vietnamese rubber plantation called Long Tan, 108 young and mostly inexperienced Australian and New Zealand soldiers are fighting for their lives against 2500 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers.

In cinemas beginning August 8th in Australia. Hopefully, we’ll see it here in the US.

Task Force Dagger Assists Department of POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Repatriating American Casualties from the Battle of Saipan

Monday, July 15th, 2019

From the hand of Mark Stephens, USA (Ret):

It is my honor to be a part of something so humbling this 75th Anniversary of events that occurred in 1944 during WWII. Out of respect to the families and a much deserved notification process I am not at liberty to discuss our mission in great detail but what I can say is we are returning to Saipan to look for and excavate WWII losses from the Battle of Saipan. We will be excavating a site possibly associated with a F6F-3 Hellcat that was found by our team last year. Several Hellcats were lost during 1944 and we are hoping to excavate and correlate the site with a loss with the hopes of a recovery. Also we will be searching for a B-29 that went down with the entire crew on a mission in 1944. It will involve magnetometer, side scan sonar, and ROV investigation followed by shallow to deep CCR (rebreather) target diving.

The mission is a continued collaboration and teaming of the Department of POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), East Carolina University Marine Archeological Department (ECU) and Task Force Dagger Foundation (TFDF). The TFDF team will be made up of some of our leadership/staff and SOF members that need Mission, Purpose and Focus. These three words, implemented, are incredibly important and impactful to those the foundation serves and supports.

We have received support from many in industry and other great Americans. These types of missions need to continue. It’s great to see so many knowing we can never forget! This is a promise our country made to everyone that has or is serving in our military.

The Original Wild Things Logo

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

During a brief meeting with the founder of Wild Things, the legendary Marie Meunier, earlier this week, she showed me the original Wild Things logo.

Steinel Ammunition Salutes the Rifle that Won the War, the M1 Garand 30-06

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

The M1 Garand is an icon for the two million plus soldiers that served in WWll. Steinel Ammunition’s 30-06 M1 Garand M2 Ball ammo is designed to give your rifle back its glory days.


Twinsburg, Ohio (July 2019) – When 16 million Americans were called to serve America and over two million soldiers sent to the European or Pacific theaters during World War ll, the M1 Garand rifle was by their side. This legendary fighting platform still creates waves of nostalgia through our military veterans, military historians and firearms enthusiasts. The M1 Garand was as versatile as it was reliable, able to operate through the freezing temperatures during the Battle of the Bulge to the hot and humid Pacific Rim Islands, easy to use for a green recruit and accurate enough for a skilled sniper.

To this day, the M1 Garand continues to hold a place of honor in our collective American memories. Fans of the M1 Garand continue to participate in a number of online groups and associations from the Garand Collectors Association to the Civilian Marksmanship Program and their popular competitions including high power rifle, as-issued military rifle, vintage sniper rifle, and more.

The M1 Garand rifle was developed by John Cantius Garand while working on semi-auto rifle designs at Springfield Armory. After extensive Army testing, the Garand was adopted by the US Military. What made this the US Military’s sweetheart rifle was its simple design with a unique gas system, self-loading, accurate rapid-fire capability, and a rear peep sight that made for quick and easy acquisition of fast-moving targets. The M1 Garand was issued in the 30-06 caliber; the then military’s newest round that was a vast improvement on the former military issue 30-03. The 30-06 was a lighter weight spitzer style bullet capable of farther ranges and less felt recoil.


Steinel Ammunition’s 30-06 M1 Garand M2 Ball is a 150-grain FMJ suitable for all 30-06 chambered rifles but is especially optimized for those prized M1 Garand rifles still in operation in the field or on the range. Purchasing surplus ammunition can be risky to both the customer and the rifle and handloading special 30-06 to accommodate the age of these M1 granddaddies can take some time, tools and experience. It’s also common knowledge in the M1 Garand crowd that use of high-powered hunting loads can bend the operating rod rendering a beloved piece of history, unusable. At 2,780 FPS, Steinel’s 30-06 M1 Garand rounds ensure reliable feeding, performance, and accuracy without undue wear and tear on the family heirloom.

Steinel Ammunition’s 30-06 M1 Garand M2 Ball 150 gr FMJ ammo is loaded in new brass with a light roll crimp and comes 20 rounds in a reusable plastic case for $21.99. Order online.

For more information on Steinel Ammunition Co., visit or follow along on Facebook or Instagram.

Kit Badger – World War II Stories

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

Kit Badger has just posted the first of the three part series called, “World War II Stories” which feature the accounts of his Grandfather Ray’s service in the Navy during WWII. The first one was posted today since he joined the Navy on July 4th, 1942.