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.
Ryan Kern is a former news anchor and reporter for a Nevada NBC affiliate. Now, as an independent journalist, he is the host/reporter/producer of the Finding Faces podcast. You may remember Chris and Jody talking about Ryan and Finding Faces in Episode 37.
“Finding Faces: The Search for the Missing Pictures of Fallen Vietnam Heroes” is about the hunt for photos of servicemen who did not return home from Vietnam. In 2001, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (the organization running The Wall memorial in Washington D.C.) started collecting at least one photo of all 58,000+ who died in the war. Twenty years later, they’re down to around 100 servicemen who do not have pictures. These photos are all featured on a virtual “Wall of Faces” online. Ryan’s podcast searches for the families of Vietnam servicemen in order to collect the best pictures possible for the Wall of Faces and help investigate or resolve any issues or questions these family members are still dealing with 50-years later.
Finding Faces, Season 1, aired in 2020 from September through December. It was 12 episodes long and about 12 hours of content, but day one of recording the series actually began in February of 2019! So while some episodes were recorded over the span of one week, others covered 17-months…and everything in-between. Season 2 is currently in production and Ryan took time out of his busy schedule to talk to The Digression Podcast Guys!
In early February, in the aftermath of the January 6th Capitol “riot,” Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, ordered a 60-day stand-down within all the military branches in order to address extremism in the ranks. Despite an October 2020 Pentagon report commissioned by Congress that concluded extremist views were not widespread and identified “a low number of cases in absolute terms,” this was an urgent matter that needed to be addressed immediately.
In the weeks following, the Pentagon released training materials to guide military units in conducting their stand-down events. Appropriately, within this guidance were examples of unacceptable and impermissible extremist activities. The only problem? All were examples of white supremacy as if that’s the only form extremism takes. There was no mention of ANTIFA anarchists who assaulted federal facilities, from ICE facilities to courthouses for a year. And the subject of Black Lives Matter (BLM) was described as an acceptable discussion of a social policy issue although BLM was responsible for 90% of the “protest” violence that occurred during the summer of 2020. And let’s not forget Major Nidal Hasan, the Islamic extremist who killed 13 people and wounded 30 others in a Fort Hood killing spree.
Are there people serving or who have served in the military who hold extremist views? Certainly. We’re an all-volunteer force, so the military is a reflection of society. However, narrowing the definition of extremism to that of white nationalism without including or ignoring outright its other manifestations, demonstrates the Pentagon’s and Secretary Austin’s lack of seriousness in truly addressing this issue.
Pictured in the cover art: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
IN THE NEWS: Mike saves Tiger; Space takes a back seat; Trump; Paski mocks Space Force; Floaty Bois; IG probes Space Force relo; Trump; Capitol fence ain’t going away any time soon; The National Guard may not either; Biden’s Three Stooges Syria Solution; ‘American is Back’ like it was before; Trump; We ain’t leaving Afghanistan; or Iraq; Trump brings deaths to zero!; Weeding out extremists; Taking sexual misconduct out of the chain of command; Sunday Ferrari; Action orders; Army gender issues; Bowe Bergdahl goes to court; Navy learns 3-D printing; Pueblo survivors beat North Korea; Marines need cobra blood; Mohawk drug score; Uranium and Gulf War Illness; Better late than never for 99-year-old soldier; Skynet IS real; Premature detonation.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.