I’m writing this one on Veteran’s Day, to post later. Thank you to all of the Veterans who were brave enough to write that blank check, with their lives, so we can all live free..
As a learner, I collect information about many things – from all over the place. For whatever reason, I have seen/heard many incredible untold stories of American history. Well, untold to me at least.
Lots of stuff that, once you find out about it, you are absolutely puzzled how you don’t know already.
Example you say: Have you ever heard of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident? It was an international confrontation that led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War. It involved one real and one falsely claimed confrontation between ships of North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but the Pentagon Papers, the memoirs of Robert McNamara, and NSA publications from 2005, proved material misrepresentation by the US government to justify a war against Vietnam.
On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox, while performing a signals intelligence patrol as part of DESOTO operations, was monitored by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats of the 135th Torpedo Squadron. Maddox initiated the incident by firing three “warning” shots, and the North Vietnamese boats replied with torpedoes and machine gun fire. Maddox expended over 280 3-inch (76 mm) and 5-inch (130 mm) shells in a sea battle. One U.S. aircraft was damaged, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats were damaged, and four North Vietnamese sailors were killed, with six more wounded. There were no U.S. casualties. Maddox was “unscathed except for a single bullet hole from a Vietnamese machine gun round”.
It was originally claimed by the National Security Agency that a Second Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred on August 4, 1964, as another sea battle, but instead, evidence was found of “Tonkin ghosts” (false radar images) and not actual North Vietnamese torpedo boats. The Pentagon used the 2 conflicts as part of the justification of America being attacked and entering more into the Vietnam war. Even though 1 attack was minor and 1 didn’t happen.
An even more unbelievable story is how close Operation Northwoods came to happening. Operation Northwoods was a proposed false flag operation against the Cuban government that originated within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of the United States government in 1962. The proposals called for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or other U.S. government operatives to commit acts of terrorism against American civilians and military targets, blaming them on the Cuban government, and using it to justify a war against Cuba. The possibilities detailed in the document included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities. Reportedly this plan was approved all of the way to President John Kennedy. Who, thankfully, had the wisdom to say say some version “Wait….What?? No!!!”
Not quite as outrageous, though interesting, was the role of Oil, Admiral Yamamoto, and Pearl Harbor. Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto was one of the most colorful, charismatic and broad-minded Japanese naval officers of his generation. From 1926 to 1928 he served as naval attaché in Washington; while in America, he journeyed alone across the country, paying his way with his own meager salary, stretching his budget by staying in cheap hotels and skipping meals. His travels revealed the growing power of the American industrial machine. “Anyone who has seen the auto factories in Detroit and the oil fields in Texas,” he would later remark, “knows that Japan lacks the national power for a naval race with America.”
In August 1939, Yamamoto was named commander in chief of the Combined Fleet, the highest seagoing command in the Japanese Navy. Yamamoto staked his life on forestalling an alliance with Nazi Germany. Right-wing zealots condemned him as a “running dog” of the United States and Britain and vowed to assassinate him. A bounty was reportedly placed on his head. He received letters warning him of an impending punishment “on heaven’s behalf,” and authorities discovered a plot to blow up a bridge as he passed over it.
But let’s take a brief moment to flash to current day. The news now adays is full of news using economic sanctions against countries that we have problems with China, Iran, Syria, Turkey. It’s very common.
Which brings us back to the “running dog” Yamamoto. His other claim-to-fame is that he was also the commander of the December 7th 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The day that will forever live in infamy.
Oil embargo. In late 1940, the American government quickly restricted and finally cut off exports of oil and other vital materials. The sanctions brought events to a head, because Japan had no domestic oil production to speak of, and would exhaust its stockpiles in about a year. The embargo, coupled with the brazen assembling of the Naval fleet at the closest base, was determined to be “a dagger pointed at the Heart of Japan.” As in, they had nothing else to lose.
I’m not sure if we were never taught this in school or if I just forgot. Though I find it interesting today.
This is particularly of interest to me on Veteran’s Day, as I think of my Father. He passed about 6 years ago at the age of 87. He served as a gunner on a destroyer at the tail end of WWII. One of his missions was patrolling the South Pacific and picking up Japanese soldiers from various islands after their surrender.
Since they were so secluded, and we had cut off communications, the troops didn’t even know the war was over. So planes had to fly overhead and drop pamphlets on the islands to say “Look, your side surrendered. We are going to pick you up and drive you home. Don’t freaking shoot at us!” Many didn’t believe and continued to fight. Many killed themselves rather than surrender.
Until the day he died, he had a ring given to him on the boat by a Japanese soldier.
He also patrolled the waters of Korea. The mission there was looking for ships that were running weapons from the Soviet Union to Korea and China. That mission was a little simpler. There was an announcement that anyone on the boat in 5 minutes were going to the bottom of the ocean with it.
However, his military career got really interesting in 1948. It was on that mission that his life and the future of the world shifted in an instant. In April and May 1948, hit ship was sent to the Enewetak Atolls in the South Pacific. There they provided security and labor to build a fake town to conduct testing known as Operation Sandstone
Operation Sandstone was a series of nuclear weapon tests in 1948. It was the third series of American tests, following Trinity in 1945 and Crossroads in 1946, and preceding Ranger. Like the Crossroads tests, the Sandstone tests were carried out at the Pacific Proving Grounds, although at Enewetak Atoll rather than Bikini Atoll. They differed from Crossroads in that they were conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission, with the armed forces having only a supporting role. The purpose of the Sandstone tests was also different: they were primarily tests of new bomb designs rather than of the effects of nuclear weapons. Three tests were carried out in April and May 1948 by Joint Task Force 7, with a work force of 10,366 personnel, of whom 9,890 were military.
The successful testing of the new cores in the Operation Sandstone tests rendered every component of the old weapons obsolete. Even before the third test had been carried out, production of the old cores was halted, and all effort concentrated on the new Mark 4 nuclear bomb, which would become the first mass-produced nuclear weapon.
He said they were about 11 miles off shore. They were given welders goggles to handle the bright flash.
Turns out that they were WAY OFF in expectations. The light was so bright that – while wearing welders goggles- my dad put his hands up to shield his eyes. Through the welders goggles he could see the bones in his hands. Like an X-Ray.
Then the horn sounded. All hands to battle stations. The explosion kicked up a monster wave. One so big that, if not handled precisely, could capsize the boat. The only option was to full steam ahead AT the wave. To ride it over.
After the test was done, all ships were called back to Pearl Harbor. Once there, they had to stay out at sea for like an extra week while they scrubbed all surfaces of the vessel to wipe off as much radiation as possible. They were supposed to deliver radar equipment on board. That just went into the ocean.
Once in Pearl, they were all quarantined for, like, a couple of weeks. Radiation poisoning. All of their hair fell off – of their entire body.
Apparently the incidence of cancer and health problems were so great for the Sailors exposed to this testing that there was class action lawsuit. My dad had cancer later in life as well.
After the military, my dad went on to serve 30+ years in law enforcement. Over 25 of which were as the Sheriff of a small county.
Thank you for your service and I love you Dad.
We also recently lost his Older brother who served amongst the forces that stormed the beaches of Normandy in the turning point of the War.