War Stories

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 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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ep 29: “The Bomb” is 75

Ever since the American occupation of the Marianas, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, the main Japanese islands had been under constant bombardment by long-range bombers of the United States. The city of Tokyo and many other cities on the Japanese mainland were leveled by day-and-night firebomb raids. As Italy and Germany had already done, Japan was paying the price for its grandiose plans for world conquest. But the island nation wasn’t ready to surrender.

Then the United States unveiled the biggest surprise in the history of warfare. It was the deadliest weapon ever designed–the atomic bomb. And although the initial test detonation at Trinity was several times more powerful than scientists had predicted, U.S. officials questioned if it would be enough to compel Japan’s surrender.

On August 6, 1945, “Little Boy” provided an answer.

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ep 27: Snooze You Loose

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!

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ep 25: To Boldly Digress

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.

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ep 21: Cheers!

Are you sick of 24/7 coronavirus? We sure are! So, join us for HAPPY HOUR where we explore these topics and more: Corona slushies; Leadership offsites; The family doesn’t listen; Beer civilized man; Drunk around the world; The best thing about the military; Driving? Drink lite; Only two kinds of beer in Leperland; Party ball and Bootleg Coors; The Class Six and Shoppette; Beer marches; Beer and Bulls; Recyclables; A pub on every corner; Yard of Ale; Beer Machine; Drinking and driving with the captain; Fosters: It’s Korean for Beer; Surprise! Recall!; A Waffle House on every block.

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ep 17: Accommodation Medals

Cover ArtLast seaman laid to rest in USS Arizona; Astronaut reenlists 800 soldiers; Air National Guard wants some Space Force action; Drone pilots get a medal; Good-bye South Korea curfew; Revealing DNA tests; Pentagon sets rules for Skynet; No. 1 coffee; Social justice finds the Air Force song; Tin Can at 20,000-feet.

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ep 16: Knuckleheads

Internet porn hits home; Basic training and intro to military discipline; M16 necklace; Marching and airplane-watching; Gun-wielding drunk-driver on base; The EEO freeze; Busted, promoted, then busted again; The man with $200 in his pocket; Honey? Did you do something wrong?; Pushup Ninja; The Black Flag; Follow the matrix; Clap for the Air Force Song, dammit!; Why Chief Hanks is right; and The Shirt said to sweep the parking lot.

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ep 14: Incentives with MSgt Kyle Green

In the business world, promotions and raises are important motivators, but in the military, rank and pay go hand-in-hand. Since military supervisors don’t have a direct influence on employee promotions or compensation, incentivizing these team members requires some out-of-the-box thinking. Our buddy, MSgt Kyle Green, is a subject matter expert on employee performance incentives and helps explore this topic, with a little digression, of course.

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