Regular listeners of the show know we like strange tales (and alliteration), so for our 50th episode, we thought we’d have a little fun with some military murders that just don’t add up. Fair warning! This episode contains some dark humor. So, what caused the untimely deaths of Lt Paul Whipkey, SPC Chad Langford, Lt Kirk Vanderbur, Col James Sabow, Col Yosef Alon, Sgt William Miller, and Cpl David Cox. We may never know what happened to these men, but one thing we know for sure: suicide is always a convenient explanation.
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.
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…
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!
What drives military members to murder? Maybe it’s the violent nature of the work; or some childhood trauma; or a psychological disorder; or maybe they’re just bad people. Maybe it’s all of these things or a combination or none of them. The truth is we often don’t know what compels someone to kill. If you’re looking for answers, you’re not going to get them here. What you’re going to get are six stories of military murder that will leave you shaking your head: The Infidelity Solution Murder; The Hi-Fi Murders; The ‘How Far Can I Get’ Murder; The Proposition Murder; The Coward Contractor Murder; and The Canadian Panty Thief Murders. And although it’s not a murder story, we chat about the Air Force’s ‘Master Solution’ to a missing finger mystery and how it backfired.
Most of you have probably heard of Antonio López de Santa Anna, the self-proclaimed “Napoleon of the West,” and the story of the Alamo. What you probably haven’t heard is how, just a few months after the Alamo, Santa Anna parked his army directly next to Sam Houston’s much smaller American force by the San Jacinto River and ordered everyone to take a siesta. Houston literally caught the Mexican force napping and after convincing himself that the scene before him wasn’t some heat-induced hallucination, he plowed his troops through Santa Anna’s army while they slept, crushing them in just 18 minutes!
The Amazing 25th Episode Podcast Spectacular! Of course, it’s really no different than our regular episodes…okay, so it’s a regular episode, but it’s special because it’s number 25–a podcast milestone! To celebrate #25, we talk about the origin of The Digression Podcast on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And, as if that wasn’t enough, we share some stories about a favorite topic that has received several mentions throughout our podcasts: Star Trek, the sci-fi series that wouldn’t die! This time it’s more than a mention, as we explore how the series raised social awareness and literally saved lives during the Vietnam war.
This is the story of Chris, who takes a job hauling a mobile long-range acoustic device from Florida to San Diego which results in a spiraling digression into the hilarious deficiencies of the giant voice system at Kunsan AB, Republic of Korea, with a few stops along the way prompted by a snake, a couple of blown tires, and the Radiator Springs-like hardtop of the southwest. This show is our tribute to USAF Command Post Communication.
Halloween is fast approaching and what better topic for this month’s podcast than The Top 10 Most Haunted Military Sites? Our military serves to project power around the globe and the men and women who serve are often thrust into dangerous and violent situations. Needless to say, the stress endured by these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines can be tremendous. Who knows how this stress coupled with the violent nature military work affects a soul that is stripped from its earthly vessel? Would the retention of these souls on the grounds and within the buildings of these military sites be such a far-fetched idea? Of course it would! C’mon, there’s no such thing as ghosts, but that doesn’t mean ghost stories aren’t a lot of fun…and extremely funny!
On February 20, 1947, the Kee Bird, a US Army Air Forces B-29 Superfortress, lifted off the runway and into the sky above Ladd Field near Fairbanks, Alaska. It’s Cold War mission was Top Secret, would take them to the North Pole and back, and involved photo-reconnaissance and mapping of the Arctic areas as part of a Strategic Air Command effort to monitor for Soviet activity and develop attack routes over the North Pole. This was the Kee Bird’s seventh mission and it was to be it’s last, as the pilot, Lt Vern Arnett, grew disoriented in a storm over the polar ice pack and turning to the south eventually made an emergency landing on a small frozen lake in northern Greenland. Although Lt Arnett put the B-29 down successfully and with no injuries to his 11-man crew, the plane was badly damaged and would not fly. So, they settled down for what would be a three-day wait for rescue.