The Digression Podcast Military News, History, & Folklore

ep 44: Too L8, They’re Gone

To the mysteries of the sky add the case of the U.S. Navy blimp, L-8. Since the dawn of aviation, aircraft have flown into the clouds never to be seen again. The L-8 disappeared into the clouds all right, but when she reappeared and eventually came back down to earth, she was missing her crew!

During WWII, the L-8 patrolled the California coast near San Francisco looking for Japanese submarines. On August 16, 1942, she took off from the Treasure Island Naval Base on a routine flight with a two-man crew, Lt (J.G.) Ernest Cody and Ensign Charles Adams of Airship Squadron 32. About two hours into the flight, Lt Cody radioed the control tower at the base and told them they were investigating a large oil slick, which could indicate a Japanese submarine was in the area. Neither Cody nor Adams were heard from again. Their ship returned to earth without them.

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ep 43: Bits and Bytes

IN THE NEWS: We were right about COVID; Space Force is here to stay; Star Gate; Alabama wins Space Force; The Cyber Force?; A General understatement; Specialists; Lockheed to the rescue for $5B; Space Force season 2; Biden locked out; National Guard parked in the garage; “Let them eat cookies”; Extremists in the Guard; 404-1776 Commission Report; Waiver for new SECDEF; Back to Afghanistan; Military fights climate change; MIA snoops on cells; Air Force recruits influencers; Electromagnetic woes; Awesome Super Bowl flyover; The combat Cloth Face Covering; Top Army soldier cleared; Army okays bald women; Bradley still broke; China and Iran flex; PC Navy fires CO; Marine grooming on deck; Downtime chess; Private Jerry Garcia?

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ep 42: The Thresher’s Tale

On April 10, 1963, the USS Thresher, the lead boat of her class of nuclear-powered submarines, went down with all hands 220-miles off the coast of Cape Cod. It was the deadliest submarine disaster in U.S. naval history. The loss of the Thresher was never fully explained and the Navy never released the report on its sinking. That is, until a retired submarine commander sued the Navy, forcing them to come clean! Now we know why she sank…at least what the Navy thinks because analysis of SOSUS data paints a different (and more plausible) picture of events. Still, one thing we do know is the sinking of the Thresher led to sweeping changes in the submarine force that has ensured the safe operating of these vessels ever since.

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ep 41: “Guardians” of the Galaxy

IN THE NEWS: Farewell Caroline Creech; Space Force “Guardians”; Be Like Star Trek; Space Force wins international tournament; Yolo, PS5 > letters of discipline; Is unclaimed money waiting for you?; Ghosts in the wires; Smaller paychecks for GI’s; BMI is bad; The Galactic Federation is watching; USAF shopping for flying cars; Told you: Army has an NCO vacuum; Pentagon Wars Take 2; Accidental discharge for Lady Green Beret; Looking for Strategic Arctic Ports; Congress wants info on UFOs; Marine vet gets new home; Record-breaking ice-breaker; Nazi’s in VA cemeteries?

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ep 40: Merry Christmas Drop

Merry Christmas! For 69-years the US Air Force has performed what has become the oldest continuing Department of Defense mission and the longest-running humanitarian airlift in the world. Every year, the multinational Operation Christmas Drop brings school supplies, clothing, rice, fishing equipment, and toys to more than 50 remote Pacific islands throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau. Utilizing Air Force C-130J “Super Hercules” aircraft, the operation also gives the Airmen the opportunity to practice humanitarian aid drops, as they’ll later be expected to conduct drops over countries like Iraq or Afghanistan after deployment.

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ep 39: I Want A Lawyer

IN THE NEWS: Spotify’s #1 Podcast; Space Force theme song; Space Force has new Chiefs; China rivalry; Missile warnings; Vets in Congress at all-time low; Gen Mattis doesn’t get it; Military’s biggest AI challenge; DISA did Teams; Pandemic stirs bio-attack worries; NASA says mystery object is not an asteroid; C130s to influence election runoff?; Old soldier aids terrorists; Soldier earns astronaut device; Holiday toy dive; This soldier is not a dad; Landing on six classes of carriers; $30-million to scrap the boat; Marines have a drug problem; Just infantry; Coast Guard deploys to the Persian Gulf; Military’s pandemic shutdowns are stupid; Rule change for service animals; Remember Pearl Harbor, but not here; Icons of Armor; The Neutral Zone.

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ep 38: Broken Arrow

Seven and a half hours into their training mission, Major Howard Richardson and his Boeing B-47B Stratojet flight crew finally began to relax after an evening of deploying electronic counter-measures and chaff to evade prowling North American F-86 fighters. The sky was clear and the moon was full. Heading south at 35,000 feet and 495 mph over Hampton County, S.C., their next stop was home. Suddenly and without warning, a massive jolt yawed their aircraft to the left, accompanied by a bright flash and ball of fire off their starboard wing.

An F-86 Sabre fighter jet had collided with the bomber and the impact ripped the left wing off the F-86 and heavily damaged the fuel tanks of the B-47. For safety reasons, the crew of the B-47 jettisoned their payload, a 7,000-pound, 1.86 megaton nuclear bomb, which fell into the Savannah River.

Now, 65 years later, the bomb, which has unknown quantities of radioactive material, has never been found. And while the Air Force says the bomb, if left undisturbed, poses no threat, area residents aren’t so sure…

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ep 37: Pilot Protection Program

IN THE NEWS: Podcaster Stories; Space command gets a home; Space policy czar; Schriever Exercise; Space warfare and the secret X-37B space plane; Robots or Astronauts?; Space Force boot camp; International Space Station turns 20; DOD leaders acting like douchebags; Exercise in USFK; Welcome home troops; Like father, like son in the AOR; The United Federation of Planets is born; Taliban reset; Tuition assistance cuts; Pilot Protection Program; Bomb trucks and Military Minions; Army goes green; AWOL update; WTF Fort Hood?; Seal Team Six baby!; Blue Angels new ride; Unequal justice in the ranks; Vets visit national parks for free; Finding Faces; 100 and flying solo; Farewell to a Doolittle Raider.

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ep 36: Top Secret Courage

In 1968, Chief Master Sergeant Richard “Dick Etchberger was part of a covert CIA and USAF team working out of a small radar site on a remote mountain in Laos called Lima Site 85. He was part of a highly-classified operation called “Project Heavy Green.” At this time, Laos was a neutral country, so it was illegal for either the United States or North Vietnam to have military forces in the country, so, Chief Etchberger and his team had to “voluntarily” resign from the Air Force and become civilians. As “employees” of the Lockheed Corporation, the Lima Site 85 crew directed USAF bombers to their targets in North Vietnam using mobile, computer-linked radar. However, what started as a mission to link bombers to targets in North Vietnam, soon moved closer to “home”, as Lima Site 85 started directing strikes in Laos as the People’s Republic of Vietnam Army moved closer and closer to their position. With the enemy at their doorstep, top brass considered evacuating Lima Site 85, but they were a day late and a dollar short as a group of specially-trained North Vietnamese Dac Cong sappers attacked the site on the evening of March 10, 1968. And the only thing between the Dac Cong and the crew of Lima Site 85 was Chief Dick Etchberger. This is his story.

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ep 35: White Feather

He’s the most famous sniper you’ve probably never heard of. Marine Gunnery Sergeant Carlos N. Hathcock II was a Marine Scout Sniper who served two tours in Vietnam, first in 1966, and returning in 1969. Until the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq he held the record for the most confirmed kills in the United States military. During the course of his two tours in Vietnam he recorded 93 confirmed kills and over 300 unconfirmed kills, building a reputation that was so renowned the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong placed a bounty on his head that was equal to three years pay or approximately $30,000. He was known by the army he hunted as “White Feather” for the single white feather he kept tucked in a band on his bush hat. His exploits against such deadly adversaries as “The Apache,” “The Cobra,” and “The General” were the stuff of legend!

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