Archive for the ‘History’ Category

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Americans Navy

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

In the early 1770s, a Connecticut inventor David Bushnell started designing what would be the first submersible. It was a small egg-shaped and less than eight feet tall. Her hull was constructed from two oak shells held together by steel bands and waterproof with a thick layer of tar. It had ventilation tubes, a compass, and a device for determining depth. Attached to the exterior was a primitive bomb. The pilot entered the vessel through a hatch at the top. There were a couple of small glass windows that provided very light and visibility. It was operated by a hand crank that propelled it and a tiller that steered it. The operator also controlled the hand pump that regulated the ballast that submerged and surfaced the craft. Once submerged and the ventilation tubes were closed, there was about 30 minutes worth. It was called “Turtle” because of the two “shells” put together to make it. It is also referred to as Americas Turtle.

In the spring of 1776, about a year into the Revolutionary War, Bushnell wrote to General George Washington asking if the Turtle could be used in defense of New York City’s harbor. Washington accepted the offer. Around midnight on 6 September, the Turtle, piloted by Army sergeant Ezra Lee. That’s right, the first submarine action by the U.S. Navy was led by an Army guy.

It took Lee two hours to get to his target; a British ship named the HMS Eagle. Once he positioned himself beneath the vessel, he was supposed to drill into her hull using a bit attached to Turtle’s top hatch. Once the hole was deep enough, he would anchor his explosive device to the ship’s hull. He had about 30 minutes to get away from the Eagle before the charge would detonate. That was the plan, but Lee’s bit got stuck in a metal part of the hull. On his second attempt, the Turtle bobbed to the surface and he was spotted. As he headed for shore, Lee released his “torpedo,” which exploded harmlessly in the middle of the East River.

Even though Lee wasn’t successful in sinking or doing damage to the HMS Eagle (other than a small drill hole) it was the U.S. first attempt at underwater warfare, and it was one of the first in a very young countries Navy. Secondarily the failed attack ultimately forced the British to move their fleet of 200 ships to where they thought was a safer location. The threat of underwater attack kept the British fleet on their toes throughout the war and made them use more resources and manpower to protect their ships then they normally would have. Much like using Special Forces behind the enemy lines in modern warfare. So, it turns out it wasn’t as big of a failure as first thought. The basic principles used by America’s Turtle still remain valid in submarine warfare today. In recognition of Bushnell’s achievement, the U.S. Navy named two submarine tenders in his honor, one during World War I and one during World War II. Inevitably, the ships were nicknamed “Turtle.”

AUSA – Medal of Honor Graphic Novel Series: Henry Johnson

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

On Tuesday, June 30, the Association of the United States Army is proud to announce the latest entry in the Medal of Honor graphic novel series: Medal of Honor: Henry Johnson.

Henry Johnson served on the Western Front of the First World War as member of the 369th Infantry Regiment, an African American unit that later became famous as the Harlem Hellfighters. While on sentry duty, Johnson fought off a German raiding party in hand-to-hand combat, despite being seriously injured. He was the first American to receive a Croix de Guerre with a golden palm, France’s highest award for bravery, and became a national hero back home.

The AUSA Book Program recognizes these remarkable acts of valor with Medal of Honor: Henry Johnson. This full-color digital graphic novel was created by a talented team of professionals:

Script: Chuck Dixon (Batman, The Punisher, The ‘Nam)

Pencils, Inks, Cover: PJ Holden (Judge Dredd, Battlefields, World of Tanks)

Colors: Peter Pantazis (Justice League, Superman, Wolverine)

Lettering: Troy Peteri (Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men)

The Association of the United States Army is a non-profit organization devoted to the US Army and Its Soldiers, and the book is being distributed free of charge as part of our educational mission. The new graphic novel is the first issue in the second volume of the Medal of Honor series, which launched October 2018 with Medal of Honor: Alvin York and continued with profiles of Roy Benavidez, Audie Murphy, and Sal Giunta. These graphic novels are available on Medal of Honor series page at

This year’s graphic novels, in addition to Henry Johnson, will highlight Sen. Daniel Inouye, who finished a World War II assault despite losing an arm; Dr. Mary Walker, a Civil War surgeon and the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor; and Cpl. Tibor Rubin, the Holocaust survivor who later fought in Korea.

To read Medal of Honor: Henry Johnson online or download a free copy, please visit  

Mel Terkla, Behind The Lines In The Ville

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

My longtime friend Mel Terkla recently shared this photo and story from his time serving as a US Navy radio operator in Vietnam.

The photo is from 1969 at the Nautique Hotel in Nha Trang, Vietnam! I’m wearing a set of locally made Tigerstripe fatigues that were sterile without name tag, rank, or unit patches. I was a Navy Radioman doing a tour at the Naval Support Facility on the Cam Ranh Bay peninsula. There was our base, an Army base, and an Air Force base on the peninsula. When we were off duty, we could go anywhere on the peninsula, but couldn’t leave it without travel orders! I worked at the Navcommsta on the base, and had everything I needed to cut my own travel orders, right down to the big red ORIGINAL stamp?! The nearest city was Nha Trang to the north about 40 miles away, and the go to spot for the guys, with a beautiful beach and plenty of bars! You had to put in for travel orders to go there, but they rarely got approved for us lowly enlisted guys! Luckily I didn’t have that problem, and could go anytime I was off duty…I was kind of a rebel back then?! It’s kind of hard to understand now, but it was a whole different scenario 50 years ago in Vietnam, especially in the relatively safer zones and in the cities! There were 3 branches of the military on our peninsula, and even more than that up in Nha Trang with different ARVN units also?! So with that said, you could move pretty freely, because the different branches didn’t really know what the others were supposed to be doing! Up in Nha Trang, the Army MP’s we’re in charge of security for all the US military, and the South Vietnamese Police (White Mice) were in charge of all the Vietnamese population…civilian and military! The Army had an alert system in Nha Trang, which was…White where you could move freely in the city…Gray where you could still move around the city but supposed to be on alert…Yellow which was a possible impending attack and you could not be hanging around in the city at all…Red which was an attack in progress! The Tigerstripe fatigues helped when I was walking around downtown on Yellow alert, because a lot of the ARVN military guys wore Tigerstripes, and I was a little guy and dark complected! Whenever I spotted any MP’s in their Jeeps, I would just turn my back and I looked like any other ARVN guy?! Also, when cruising around downtown during White or Gray, if any MP’s stopped to question me, I would just whip out my travel orders! The WTF looks they would give me with no markings on my Tigerstripe uniform and official Navy travel orders was hilarious lol?! I could write a book with all the stories I have from traveling to and from Nha Trang, and the downtown life?!

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Navy Seawolves Task Force 116 Vietnam “Rowell’s Rats”

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

You have heard of the Seawolves if you have ever read any stories about the SEALs or The Brown Water Navy in Vietnam. The Navy Seawolves became the most decorated Helo squadron in the Vietnam war. The Navy Seawolves were stood up overseas, and they were decommissioned overseas.  They were set up to provide air support for Navy units fighting in the Rung Sat Special Zone, to support the SEAL Teams and Boat Units. They provide insertion and extraction platforms, close air support, medevac, and taxis from base to base. They did it all. They used hand me down aircraft from the Army and turned them into Navy Seawolves Helicopters. I love learning about the history of units like this, there will never be a movie about them, but the man that made up the Seawolves are the backbone of the U.S. and our military history.

Retired Army Major General Carl McNair, who commanded the 121st Assault Helicopter Company during the Vietnam War, once recalled a story about Army General Creighton Abrams—commander of all military forces in Vietnam—visiting an airbase for an awards ceremony for Army aviation personnel. Riding as a passenger in a jeep along what passed as a flight line, he noted a young man not wearing a cover and ordered his driver to pull over. Abrams had served under General George S. Patton during World War II, so he was tough. Questioning what he thought was a soldier out of uniform, he received a response that went something like: “Sir, I am not a soldier. I am a sailor and a Seawolf, and in the Navy, we don’t wear covers on the flight line.” Abrams responded, “Very well, carry on,” and proceeded on his way. There is nothing better than a General having no idea who you are.

Pre-Order Now Open Vickers Guide: SIG Sauer (Volume 1)

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

MSG Larry Vickers (USA, Ret) made a name for himself while in the Army, but word spread once he retired and started Vickers Tactical. Over the past few years he has applied his passion for history and small arms to authoring the Vickers Guide series of books.

Written in conjunction with Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons and photographer James Rupley, the firearms of SIG Sauer now join an ever growing list of crucial reference books which include the AR-15, AK, and WWII-era German small arms.

Vickers Guide: SIG Sauer sets out to track the course of SIG Sauer through the 1900s and up to the present day, with visits to the SIG Sauer Museum and SIG Sauer AG manufacturing facilities in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland, SIG Sauer manufacturing facilities in New Hampshire, USA, and visits to private collections in Switzerland and the United States.

This First Volume of Vickers Guide: SIG Sauer focuses on the pistols and submachine guns produced by SIG Sauer on both sides of the Atlantic – starting with the P210-series of pistols, which are perhaps the finest production service pistols ever produced. This book then continues on to cover the modernized P220-series and the Swiss P75 service pistol, detailing how the P220 would evolve and find growing adoption and support in the United States with special operations units, law enforcement, and the civilian market.

This Volume continues its look into modern developments at SIG Sauer with behind the scenes glimpses into the introduction of the P320 pistol and its adoption by the U.S. armed forces as the country’s newest standard service pistol – in the form of the M17 and M18. Also covered are inside looks into a number of other pistols produced by SIG, including the P230, P232, P239, SIG PRO-series, and the industry changing P365 line of pistols. This First Volume also delves into submachine guns – starting with the Swiss-produced Modell 1930 and continuing all the way through the present day in the United States with the MPX and its various derivatives.

Pre-order yours at

June 88 – 160th SOAG Recovers Mi-24 in Chad

Monday, June 15th, 2020

June 1988, the 160th SOAG (Originally Task Force 160, the unit was later Designated a Group, the Regiment) received a short-notice directive to recover a Russian made Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter from a remote location in Chad.

At midnight on June 11, 1988, two MH-47s flew 490 miles at night without outside navigational aids to the target location, the Ouadi Doum airfield in northern Chad.

The first Chinook landed and configured the Mi-24, while the second hovered overhead and sling loaded it for return to Ndjamena.

A surprise sandstorm slowed the return trip, but less than 67 hours after the arrival of the C-5 in Chad, the ground crew had the Mi-24 and Chinooks aboard and ready for return to the U.S.

Operation Mount Hope demonstrated incredible teamwork by aviation, ground, and support personnel. Their efforts resulted in the unit’s ability to strike deep and accomplish the mission.

Night Stalkers Don’t Quit!

SCUBAPRO SUNDAY – The Battle of Normandy 6 June thru 29 August

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

When most people think of Normandy, they think about the invasion on 6 June, and leave it there. But the Battle of Normandy did not end until 29 August when the last German troops crossed the Seine river. The Allies had estimated the casualties on D-day could be as many as 40,000, but they were far fewer – around 10,000. Even on Omaha Beach, the Allies lost about 842 dead. But it could have been a lot worse. German casualty numbers on D-Day are not as precise, but estimates put them at a similar amount. By the end of the battle, the Allies would have over 2,850,000 soldiers on the ground in Europe.

Overlord was the code name for the invasion. The first six weeks had come to a stalemate, an operation on 18 July by the U.K. forces known as GOODWILL did advance them about 10 square miles, but it came at the cost of over 5500 Allies casualties, and about 400 tanks lost. The Germany losses were about 100 tanks and about 200 people captured. It is conceded by many the biggest tank battle fought by the U.K. 

General Bradley’s idea was named Operation Cobra, and it was put into motion on 10 July. It started with the carpet bombing of a 4-mile-long line in front of the Germans along the U.S. lines. As soon as the bombs were dropped, the U.S. 2nd and 3rd Armored Divisions would punch a hole through the German defenders and finally break out of the peninsula.

 As the Allied forces advanced in all directions, the German divisions tried desperately to reorganize. Patton’s 3rd Army advanced towards the east of France during the weeks that follow, only being slowed down because they were outrunning their supply of fuel and ammo. Now the Allies could pursue the Germans into the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.

This battle would set the tone for the rest of the war, Germany lost about one battalion worth of man a week to death and injury as they retreated about 50,000 German soldiers. They also had approximately 200,000 men captured. The Allies lost more than 36,000 soldiers, and the fighting had also affected civilians living in Normandy; about 20,000 people killed, and around 300,000 homes destroyed.

Overall, the Normandy campaign was one of the most brutal of the war. The combined average daily casualty rate on each of the 77 days of the battle was 6,675: higher than the Somme, Passchendaele, and Verdun in the First World War. The Battle of Normandy was a decisive first step in the liberation of Europe.

###I want to add a note about the number and dates I have used for this article. You can ready about this campaign, and you will get different numbers and dates, depending on who wrote it and when. To this day, the numbers are still changing.  

USAF SERE Training Film – How To Catch A Fish

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

United States Air Force Film Training Aid FTA, 279Q. “Survival Training”. This is a 1950s, black and white military training film. The film is intended to show stranded persons how to catch fish through several means to survive. The film is narrated. Fishing. The film opens with a man fishing on the side of the river with a branch. A soldier is seen walking along the banks of a river 1:10. A man is creating fishing gear 1:40. A man fashions a hook from a key 2:09. A man makes a fishing pole out of a branch 2:34. A man digs for bait 3:12. Earthworms are found 3:22. A man fashions fishing lures out of regular items 4:00. Man fashions a spear from a branch and kills a fish 4:15. Man creates a gaffe 4:50. Man fashions a spear out of bamboo 5:00. Man creates a fishing trap out of his parachute 5:30. Man punctures trap to allow water to flow through 6:07. Man places bait into fish trap 6:23. Man creates mesh net to catch fish 8:35. Man ties weights to the bottom of the net to hold it in the water 9:06. Man places net across the river 9:38. The net catches fish by the gills in the riverbed 10:30. Man creates a trite line with several hooks along a single line 11:15. Produced by United States Air Force Photographic and Charting Service. (MATS). 1958.