Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, February 29, 2004


This is coolbert:

More on big guns. More on a big gun to be precise. Go to this web site to read about "Dora":

click here.

What amazes me is the crew required to man and operate this gun.

It would seem the unit required to man and service the gun was the size of a regiment [2,000 troops].

All for one gun!

And it would take six weeks to set up and put into operation.

You would have thought that by taking that unit of a regimental size and turning that unit into a conventional artillery unit would be much more satisfactory. And it probably would have been so. Having an artillery unit of 2,000 men would be about ten batteries [company sized units], firing about sixty guns of conventional artillery. Which would be much more flexible and useful in any military campaign.

However, the gun was put to good use. Destroyed the forts at Sebastopol in fine fashion. But then had to be retired as the wear and tear on the gun was so great from just the few shots it fired, that it needed refitting. Fancy that. Extracts and my comments [in bold], on the web site:

The largest gun ever built had an operational career of 13 days, during which a total of 48 shells were fired in anger. It took 25 trainloads of equipment, 2000 men and up to six weeks to assemble. It seem unlikely that such a weapon will ever be seen again.

Yeah, it will never be seen again. It is not efficient. No one could afford such a thing. [well, Saddam did have the Babylon Gun, but it never was put together and did not fire].

Well ahead of its progress a small army of laborers started to prepare the gun's chosen firing position at Bakhchisaray, a small village outside Sevastopol. Well over 1, 500 men under the control of a German army engineer unit dug through a small knoll to form a wide railway cutting on an arc of double track, and the sides of the cutting were raised to provide cover and protection for the gun.

It took a small army of laborers just to lay the track [double track], and create a usable site for the gun to be fired from.

25 separate loads that formed the gun and its carriage had to be assembled and pushed and pulled into the right position and order.

The gun came disassembled and had to be put together on site before it could fire.

Even using this small army of men it took between three and six weeks to assemble the gun, even using the two I 10-tonne cranes that had been designed specially for the task.

Even with specialized equipment, this was a major task. Just don't think the assemblers had a whole lot of experience putting this thing together and taking it down again. Too much time and money involved in "exercises".

By the time Sevastopol fell early in July 1942 it was calculated that no fewer than 562,944 artillery projectiles had fallen on the port, the bulk of them from heavy-calibre guns and howitzers, and this total does not include the noisy storms of artillery rockets and the extra weight of the infantry's own unit artillery.

This does not include the shells from "Dora". Even with this bombardment, the fortress had not fallen.

Its first targets were some coastal batteries that were engaged at a range of about 25000 m (27,340 yards), and all shots were observed by a special Luftwaffe flight of Fieseler Fi-156 Storchs assigned to the gun. Eight shots were all that were required to demolish these targets, and later the same day a further six shots were fired at the concrete work known as Fort Stalin.

Well, a real heavy weight this gun. No need to wear the opposition down. Just fire a few shots and it is all over.

'Schwere Gustav' was in action again on 6 June, initially against Fort Molotov. Seven shells demolished that structure and then it was the turn of a target known as the White Cliff, This was the aiming point for an underground ammunition magazine under Severnaya Bay and so placed by the Soviets as to be invulnerable to conventional weapons. It was not invulnerable to the 80-cm K (E) for nine projectiles bored the way down through the sea, through over 30 m (100 ft) of sea bottom and then exploded inside the magazine. By the time 'schwere Gustav' had fired its ninth shot the magazine was a wreck and to cap it all a small sailing ship had been sunk in the process.

Damn, this was one bad assed gun.

After seven shots the target was ready for the attentions of the infantry and the gun crews were then able to turn their attentions to some gun maintenance and a short period of relative rest until 11 June. On that day Fort Siberia was the recipient of a further five shells, and then came another lull for the gun crews until 17 June, when they fired their last five operational shells against Fort Maxim Gorky and its attendant coastal battery. Then it was all over for 'schwere Gustav'.

By all over they mean that the gun needed maintenance.

In addition, here is an interesting story about the "Dora" gun.

A science-fiction book was written not so many years ago where "Dora" played a role.

Seems a fleet of invading space aliens began an attack on the earth. Took them a long time to get here from where ever they came from, and had expected to fight a human army of the Crusader type.

That is what the scouts of the aliens had reported had existed when the aliens made their last visit. Well, the aliens arrived during WW2 and had to confront "Dora". Seems that "Dora" fired a shot at the alien space craft carrying all the atomic weaponry of the aliens , and the impact of the shell caused a sympathetic detonation [such a thing is not supposed to be able to happen] that wiped out the entire alien nuclear arsenal!

The story continues that this detonation destroyed much of Europe and that the aliens and humans then fought a war on WW2 style combat. Much of the story is centered in Chicago, where at the time a weapon was being created to stop the aliens, namely, the human a-bomb. So goes the sci-fi book.


Saturday, February 28, 2004

This is coolbert: The Paris Gun, also called Wilhelmgeschutze [Wilhelm's Gun], was a wondrous weapon. Modern long range artillery of the Dr. Bull variety weapons have this weapon as a progenitor.

Here are good sites to go to for the Paris gun:

click here.

and click here.

This above site has a lot of links to other gun sites too.

and click here.

Above site is in French has translation to English. Is very good. [some parts of the translations are not soo good, but are understandable nonetheless]

The Paris gun was a wonder of war that had no real military effect, but did have a lot of psychological success. Some comments on the gun: [my comments in bold]

However, the first experimental shooting, carried out on the polygon of Altenwalde, November 20, 1917, clearly shows the potentialities of this type of revolutionary shell. Projectiles were launched to more than 100 km. In spite of these first very encouraging results, the director of artillery from Krupp maintained that the use of this type of projectile was going to raise insurmountable problems in particular because the separation of the shoe was likely to modify the trajectory of the shell.

They are talking here about a sabot round. Was not used in the final gun.

As for a suspension bridge of the stays and a central checkmate come to rigidify the long tube, preventing it from curving itself under its own weight (several guns with long tube show a hardly perceptible curve besides which righting temporarily the firing). After each shot, the tube often oscillated several minutes.

Modern cranes used in construction use a support mechanism for the long length of the boom.

But the secrecy of the guns of Paris lies in the trajectory of the shell. With a rise equal to 50 degrees, the projectile is propelled in the upper atmosphere where the rarefied air opposes less resistance to the shell and thus increases its range.

The high trajectory meant longer range as less atmospheric drag was present.

It is at the time highest altitude above surface of the Earth ever reached by a projectile launched by the man. The Gun of Paris preserved this record of 1918 to 1939, until the V-2 rocket is developed during the Second World war.

This is very impressive.

The Guns of Paris spit of the explosive projectiles of 210 Misters the wear of the tubes was such as they were to be replaced after 65 blows. In order to compensate for the extremely fast deterioration of the heart of the gun, the shells were numbered from 1 to 65 and were to be drawn in sequential order since each projectile had a gauge slightly higher than the precedent. So that the gauge of the projectile number 65 reached in fact 235 mm! The propelling load also increased with each blow, passing from 180 with 200kg for a aproximative length of 5m. The initial plan envisaged sufficient tubes of replacement to allow the continuous ramming of Paris by two guns during one year complete. The worn tubes were turned over to the Krupp factories to be recalibré with 210 Misters a total of 7 tubes were there seems it realized.

Translation is not quite right here. Misters are millimeters. Spit is the diameter, blow is a round fired, ramming is a firing upon.

The combined command, initially believing that these bombs were due to an air attack of planes or airships acting at very high altitude, mobilized the near total of air hunting with investiguer the Parisian airspace with highest altitudes, which did not give anything strictly if it is not the loss of an American pilot who lost the control of his plane and was crushed in southern suburbs after having exceeded the maximum ceiling!

This is really incredible. The French thought they were under air attack and sent out planes to find the intruders. One U.S. pilot crashed from going too high to find the intruder which did not exist.


Friday, February 27, 2004

This is coolbert: Did General Westmoreland lie to his superiors during the Vietnam War? This is a widely believed contention that was brought to light some years ago now by a program on "Sixty Minutes". In that program, it was reported that Westmoreland understated in a deliberate manner the size of the enemy force the U.S. military confronted in Vietnam.

During the Vietnam War, General Westmoreland stated that the enemy force the U.S. military faced numbered about 300,000 troops. It should be fully appreciated that the American Army in Vietnam fought for the most part regular military units of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). These were military units that had a standard TO&E, standard equipment, uniforms, etc. Conventional military units. Most American Army units fought in combat with enemy forces of this nature. Now, at some point, a commander, Westmoreland in this case, is going to ask the question, "how numerous is the enemy?" And in doing so, that commander will have to make a value judgment as to who to count and who not to count. Westmoreland made the judgment to count as the enemy the type of units the U.S. Army most often fought against in Vietnam, the NVA. And, if you were to count as best you can how numerous the NVA was in South Vietnam, and what forces were available for reinforcement, this would have totaled about 300,000.

So, where did the contentious aspect of this count come from? It seems that during the early part of heavy American involvement in the war, starting around 1965, enormous amounts of enemy documents were captured by U.S. forces. It was only until several years later that a sufficient amount of these documents were translated for a detailed evaluation of their intelligence content to be possible. Adams, a CIA analyst, studied these documents and concluded that the number of enemy forces facing the U.S. in Vietnam was much greater than believed. Adams came to the conclusion that this enemy force was about 800,000 strong. This much greater number was brought to the attention of U.S. military authorities and was said to have been dismissed. And this was the source of the contention after the war was over that Westmoreland lied to his superiors.

Is this allegation of lying true? Well, it all boils down to what do you define as an enemy soldier. Westmoreland made the value judgment to count as an enemy soldier only those troops that were part of a standard military unit, had standard training, wore a uniform, etc. In the figure that Adams came up with, the counting of who was a soldier was done according to the method employed by the communist side, the Viet Cong. By the reckoning of the communist side, any eighty year old man who sharpens a punjii stake or any eight year old boy who set up a booby trap at night is a soldier. This a far more liberal definition of what is a soldier than the definition that was used by Westmoreland.

Given the fact that Westmoreland had to make a value judgment on how numerous the enemy force he faced was, and given the nature of what type of enemy force the U.S. military in Vietnam generally fought, Westmoreland probably made the right decision. It would be very unfair to say that Westmoreland "lied". To include eighty year old men sharpening punjii stakes or eight year old boys setting up a booby trap as a "soldier" is just not reasonable.


Thursday, February 26, 2004

This is coolbert: During WW2, the German army, as it did in WW1, performed very well. Was a formidable force. Always killed more of the enemy than had killed themselves. Took on [the German military] the combined forces of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Imperial Britain, defeat ONLY occurring when faced with overwhelming numbers.

What are the reasons for this? Perhaps the most important reason is superior leadership. There existed in the officer corps a large number of superior leaders that provided that edge that allowed the German Army to excel.

There were a number of reasons for this superior leadership existing.

One was a result of the Versailles Treaty. The German Army after WW1 was reduced markedly in size and was limited to an active force of 100,000 troops total. Well, the Germans found a way to live with this. They responded by saying to themselves, "well, we will have an army of 100,000 men, but it will be the best army in the world for it's size." Meticulous selection process for enlistees guaranteed that only the cream of the cream was chosen for induction and training. Out of say 700 prospective enlistees, only perhaps half a dozen would be chosen for induction. In addition, the troops of the Weimar Republic were also trained to the highest possible level. Each man was trained to be a potential officer. So, that if the day came in the future [and it did come too], so that the size of the German Army had to be increased say fifty times [as it was], a potential officer corps was already trained and ready to take command [and it did].

Secondly during WW2, the German Army also had an intensive officer training program [OCS type course] for enlisted men.

In particular one can point to the OCS program of the Waffen SS as taught in the picturesque Bavarian town of Bad Tolz. Capable, experienced enlisted would be trained to the highest level possible in the Junker [yoon-ker] Schulen [school]. Run by a one eyed General named Hausser. These enlisted were put through a rigorous regimen of training.

This training was to produce a superior officer in every sense of the word.

A lot of emphasis was placed on producing a "gentleman". A military man who had not only military training but was also trained in "sophisticated" behavior as well. To this end professionals were employed in a variety of fields as instructors. To include:

* To learn ball room dancing, ballerinas were employed as dancing partners.

* The techniques, rules and etiquette of fine dining were taught by maitre d's of exclusive restaurants.

* The fine points and appreciation of classical music was expounded upon by conductors of symphony orchestras [while probably listening to Wagner].

* For physical training, Olympic caliber athletes taught the enlisted students the techniques of the winning competitor to give them the extra edge in a variety of sports, fencing, boxing, track and field, marksmanship, etc.

This intensive training did produce an officer corps of superior caliber. In addition, SS troops would have been instilled with indoctrination of a political nature. A combination of factors at work here made for superior leadership that demonstrated marked ability on the battlefield!


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

This is coolbert: The Marine force at Khe Sanh (KS) in my opinion would have been able to successfully defend against an all out ground assault by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) at KS. The NVA would not be able to do to the Marines what they were able to do to the French at Dien Bien Phu (DBP). 20,000 attacking NVA would not be able to overcome 5,000 Marines as 40,000 Viet Minh were able to defeat 10,000 French troops. Number of reasons for this. These would include:

The Marine force was a homogeneous force, not mixed as was the French garrison at DBP. Had a unified command that was determined and was not going to be surprised. Marines were just better prepared.

The Marines had superior organic firepower, training, experience, and esprit than the French did at DBP. This is not to negate the actions of the French force, just that the Marines would have been better.

The Marines were able to call upon not only their organic firepower, but an enormous and overpowering amount of fire support from other services. This would have included of course, Arc Light [USAF], Navy and Marine tac air, and Army [helicopter gunships].

And, in addition, of course, is the fact that the U.S. high command in Vietnam, led by Westmoreland, was just not prepared to see the garrison at KS be a victim and fall to a NVA assault. They were prepared to do whatever was necessary to emerge victorious.

This is not to say that the attacker at KS, the NVA, could not have assaulted the garrison at KS and caused a lot of damage. They could have. But they would not have emerged victorious.


This is coolbert: That declassified document previously classified SECRET from the military history department to the Chief of Staff [Army (?)] concerning the siege at Khe Sanh (KS) is most informative and show the role that military historians fulfill is not just a recording of events. Military historians evaluate current operations with an eye to what transpired in the past. Make recommendations based upon their evaluations. This is "after action reporting" on a much more macro scale. I must say that in my opinion this report was very well done. Whoever actually wrote the report knew what they were doing.

The historians mention that most fortresses fall to siege. They attribute this to three reasons. One is a lack of initiative on the part of the besieged. Second is supply problems. Third is a sense of futility on the part of the defenders brought about by demoralization. All three factors played a major role at Dien Bien Phu.

The historians arrive at some definite conclusions regarding historical sieges and the situation as it exsited at KS. According to the historians, offensive action by an overland relieving force is the best method historically to defeat the investing force [North Vietnamese Army]. Also the much greater U.S. superior firepower can be negated to a degree by the enemy using bunkers, tunnels, dispersion, concealment, and hugging tactics [the latter would seem to be the best way to defeat the Arc Light bombers].

There were obvious concerns about the current course of action being taken at the time by the U.S. forces. The historians seem to be aware that the enemy was "willing to pay a heavy price" [one of the verities of De Puy] to overrun the garrison at Khe Sanh. That they would take enormous casualties in the process would have been a calculation that they would have made in advance and taken into account in their preparations for the siege. The historians make a most pertinent declaration. "Withdrawal is strategically, politically, or psychologically unacceptable." Very well put.

The final recommendation of the historians is to employ offensive action by an outside force against the enemy force besieging KS. This indeed was done [1st Air Cavalry led an airmobile operation that did relieve the Marine garrison].


Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Rome & China.

This is coolbert:

Here are some web sites that discuss Roman legionnaires in China, circa 2000 years ago.

Sound weird, doesn't it? That the Romans could have gotten that far. Well, read for yourself:

click here and click here.


* Crassus, who led the Romans in battle against the Parthians, the latter of who which were victorious, was at the time reputed to be the richest man in the world. From his name comes the English world "crass".

This Crassus is the same man who defeated Spartacus and crucified the remaining slave rebels.

Chinese dominion at the time of the Han Empire extended as far west as what is now Lake Balkash.

So it would not be beyond the realm of possibility that Roman mercenaries and Chinese soldiers would have fought in combat in this area.

* It should be possible to see if these persons who claim descent from the Romans are actually what they claim. DNA testing could solve this riddle in a real hurry. And we should not dismiss any genealogy that the locals claim either. It is a fact that in India, peasants can chant their lineage back over one hundred generations to that Aryan invader who originally set foot as a conqueror in the sub-continent.

* There is another possibility for Roman mercenaries in China. It is also chronicled in the Chinese annals of the Han Empire of men raiding coastal cities of southern China that in appearance, tactics, and weaponry, resembled Romans.

Seems someone during the Vietnam War researching foreign military involvement in the Indo-China region came across this fact. This could possibly have been mercenaries sailing from India and raiding the coastal cities that they would have heard existed.

It is known that Rome did have established trading colonies in India during the time of the Caesars and there were Romans resident in these trading stations. It is not beyond reason that legionnaires heard of the easy and opulent pickings eastward and formed expeditions to conduct what would now be called piracy. Research into this history could be provide some interesting developments.


This is coolbert: The siege at Khe Sanh (KS) ended with a whimper rather than a bang. This was not anticipated. I think the media, the civilian leadership, and many in the military felt that KS would develop into another Dien Bien Phu (DBP). This did not occur. No massive ground assault in conjunction with a massive artillery bombardment by the besieger. Why was this? Undoubtedly the massive, overpowering Operation Niagara is the reason why. Such a massive bombardment from the air, the equivalent, as I have posted before, of five to ten Hiroshima a-bombs, was just too much for the North Vietnamese (NVA) forces. Such an unprecedented aerial assault was a spoiling attack from the air that must have upset the well laid plans of the NVA. Probably suffering casualties in such numbers that the units brought into the siege were just incapable of carrying out their mission. And to have launched a massive ground assault would only have brought even more Arc Light carpet bombing missions upon the NVA, resulting in even more catastrophic casualties!! The results were just not worth it. Now, as to KS being a diversion, and no real massive assault being planned in the first place. Well, I think the key to understanding this would be to know for a fact if General Giap was actually personally in command of the besiegers. To me, knowing that Giap was in command would tell me that this was more than a diversion. Will this actually ever be known for a fact? Probably not!


Very interesting first hand account of the war in Iraq by a Marine Reservist

click here.

Monday, February 23, 2004

This is coolbert: Prior to 9/11 the military writer, retired Army Colonel David Hackworth wrote an interesting article about internal military threats to the U.S. This threat was primarily, perhaps almost exclusively, from street gangs. Hackworth was of the opinion that street gangs in the U.S. now did pose a significant internal military threat that merits considerable attention. Gangs now have the combination of numbers, money, and organization to field formidable armies of heavily armed thugs that are doing and can do considerable damage. In particular, the large amounts of cash at the disposal of street gangs allow them to buy the most sophisticated weaponry from the international arms market. Just having the weapons in their possession, even if they are not used, is a considerable intimidation factor. Local, state, and the Federal government find it very difficult to combat these gangs as the usual military means of doing so are inhibited by Constitutional guarantees of rights and freedom.

It should be noted that monetary reward is not the only reason for membership in these street gangs. At the higher echelons of command, these gang members derive a satisfaction of being a person with considerable power. Power in the physical, intimidating sense of the word. In this aspect, gangs are very formidable rivals to the government, which normally are the only force that is allowed to use power in such a physical manner, to enforce norms of behavior and laws.


This is coolbert: Here is a web site that discusses in more detail the gun ABM system as was mentioned by me in a previous post to the blog:

Naval Proceedings from a decade ago.

click here.

Go there and see all the details. This describes several shipboard systems that were touted at the time. The idea was to still have naval gunfire and give it a dual purpose, to support say amphibious landings and also to have the ABM capability. Very good article. Seems the idea is dormant. Too bad. For a cheap price this would seem to be the way to go. For the cost of one test of a conventional ABM missile [most of these tests of which seem to be failures], you could have a gun system ABM prototype up and working in a relatively short time. For tests and such. Sounds good to me.


Sunday, February 22, 2004

This is coolbert. Animals of the Vietnam War. Now, in a previous post, I have made mention of the rats at Khe Sanh. That the Marines in the garrison knew something really portentous was going on outside the perimeter of the garrison when the rat population en masse deserted for the surrounding area. Now, among the Marines, this was widely believed to be an indicator of very heavy casualties among the besiegers of Khe Sanh, the North Vietnamese army troops. All those dead bodies laying around from Arc Light missions had created a banquet for the rats to feast upon. Yuck!

Now, two other animals have been mentioned in the annals of Vietnam War apocrypha.

One is the tiger population of the war zone. It seems the tigers of the war zone also found good pickings in the areas where Arc Light missions had occurred. This was both good and bad for the tigers. Good in that the number of dead bodies gave an exceptional amount of easy meat available for consumption. Bad in that the tigers too became victims of Arc Light missions. Populations of tigers were supposed to have first gone up, and then precipitously down. Tigers as well as men can be killed by carpet bombing.

The second animal that was also a victim of Arc Light missions was the kouprey. A wild ox that lives in the border region where Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos comes together. Very, very rare, and was last observed by western science in the mid-50's. This oxen is believed by some scientists to be the progenitor of all domesticated cattle and is of great interests to persons wanting to breed a domestic type of cattle that is not susceptible to tropical diseases, etc. It was widely feared that the last of these oxen were killed in Arc Light missions. This has proven to be unfounded, as a herd of these oxen were recently seen by various parties, still on their home range.



This is coolbert:

The sequence of events that General De Puy mentions could easily lead one to assume that events were to unfold much as they did at Khe Sanh (KS) as at Dien Bien Phu (DBP).

* First, a large garrison [Marines] is set up in a remote area.

* This garrison is then isolated and cut off from overland resupply and reinforcement.

* Then a large enemy force begins a siege.

* This force is large and outnumbers the defenders of the garrison in a substantial way.

* Then a bombardment begins.

* Further reinforcement and resupply by air becomes more and more difficult.

* The enemy assault force (North Vietnamese Army (NVA)) then begins attacks to probe the defenses and even makes attacks of a nature to gain even more advantage than they already have.

* The enemy initiates sapping, mining, and trenching reminiscent of DBP.

* All this would be culminated by a massive enemy ground assault combined with an overwhelming bombardment to destroy the garrison.

This is what occurred at DBP.

Events at KS did develop at first in this way, but then the comparisons end.

* No large ground assault of divisional size of greater did occur at KS.

* Bombardment at KS from NVA artillery did not ever occur with the same intensity to threaten the garrison at KS as happened to the French at DBP.

After a prolonged siege, the enemy force at KS just seemed to fade away.

Now, it has been suggested that the enemy action at Khe Sanh was a diversion. A diversion to take the attention of U.S. commanders over the upcoming Tet Offensive. Giap himself has said this to be so. My own perception is that this just is not correct. I believe that Giap did see KS as being an analog to DBP. He would be able to destroy the Marine garrison at KS just as he had done at DBP. This did not occur, and Giap just cannot bring himself to admit this.



I served with MASS-3 in Vietnam in 1970. The Marine Air Support Squadron was located on Hill 327 on the Danang perimeter, with five ASRT (Air Support Radar Teams) in Danang, Quang Tri, Birmingham Fire Support Base, Chu Lai, and An Hoa.

The ASRT teams were about 3 officers and 7 enlisted. They operated the TPQ-10 Radar. This small van had a (for then) sophisticated analog computer. The operators put the target info into the computer, the type of aircraft, bombs, weather, etc. They would then fly the aircraft to a point in space where they would drop their bombs, supposed to be within 50 meters of the target.

Very effective weapon. It was used as a bomb disposal - close air support aircraft would fly in support of the infantry, and drop their bombs if needed directed by a FAC. If the were not needed, they would report to the ASRT, who would bomb a target.

This type of fire control made it very difficult for the NVA to mass for an attack. The ASRT missions were all weather, with fighter bombers flying high and straight above the target. If intel knew of a location of NVA, they would be attacked.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

This is coolbert: OK. Now, if I was a person who knew something about electronic warfare, how could I have advised the North Vietnamese (NVA) as to how to defeat the Arc Light bombers at Khe Sanh (KS)? Well, in a previous post, I have mentioned that the Marines at KS set up large metal plates in a triangular pattern within their base so as to mark their position for overflying B-52's on an Arc Light mission. The bombardier in the lead plane would know where not to bomb. Now the NVA could have done this as a start. Set up analog metal plates in triangular patterns all over the KS area. Given out false indicators for the radar of the B-52's. The bombardier would be confused by the false images and not be able to tell the U.S. side from the NVA side. Would hesitate before delivering the bomb load. Secondly, the NVA could have had simple radar detectors with them. Tuned to the B-52 radar frequency. Upon detecting the radar of the B-52, they could issue a warning to their troops in the area to take cover. Coolie/laborers/engineers could have dug in the area trenches that the NVA troops could have immediately jumped into. Prevented them from being above ground and being killed or injured by the Arc Light carpet bombing mission. Thirdly, perhaps those radars of the B-52's were susceptible to jamming or spoofing [sending false echoes]. Again, if the NVA had the right equipment, they could have jammed or spoofed and created a big time headache for the bombardier of the lead B-52. Lastly, the Arc Light mission of three B-52's presumably had some way to unload their bombloads simultaneously on the same target, while flying in formation. Some sort of radio signal, on command, or a servo mechanism where the bombardier of the lead and control plane issues an electronic signal to unload all ordnance by a master/slave servo. I just don't know about this for a fact, but this is a possibility. Now, if this signal was know to the NVA, perhaps some sort of jamming or intrusion would also be possible on their part. Cause again all sorts of problems, or even inadvertent release of bomb load, not over the target.


I talked to the Commander of Khe Son shortly after the battle. In fact, our Basic School of Lieutenants threw the good Colonel in the swimming pool at a drunken party in 1969. All hands were happy.

The Colonel told us that the Marines in Khe Son were never in jeopardy as indicated by the media. The fire power of the Marines with massive air support precluded the possibity of a successful ground attack, in his opinion.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Arc Light.

This is coolbert:

Arc Lights at Khe Sanh (KS).

The name Arc Light was assigned to all B-52 missions flying out of Guam during the Vietnam war.

Three B-52 bombers flying in formation would unload their payloads on the same target simultaneously.

This was supposed to be the most highly feared weapon the U.S. had during the entire war.

Either Morley Safer of Mike Wallace of Sixty Minutes said that interviews with North Vietnamese soldiers after the war confirmed this fact. According to North Vietnamese vetarans ofd the war, NO American weapon was more feared than the B-52!

One flight of three B-52's would carpet bomb a target, creating a box shaped bombed area one and one half (1 1/2) miles long and three quarters (3/4) miles wide. Everyone within that box above ground would be killed. Everyone within one mile beyond the boundaries of the box also above ground would be wounded in some manner. A very fearsome weapon system.

The amount of ordnance expended at KS totaled nearly 100,000 tons of explosives. Most of this was in the manner of dropped bombs from flights of B-52's. Now, that amount of explosive is equivalent to five to ten Hiroshima types a-bombs dropped on KS!!

This was an impressive amount of ordnance by any standard.

This to is a clear indication of the significance and importance that the battle and siege of KS had in the minds of the U.S. commanders. Any time in these declassified reports reading about 27, 33, or 36 Arc Light missions during the siege, they are talking about multiples of three B-52's conducting carpet bombing against North Vietnamese targets.

How was this ordnance dropped without having the U.S. base at KS inadvertently struck by U.S. bombs? Well, it is reputed that the U.S. set up three large metal plates [some sort of corner reflectors] in the base itself, arranged in a triangular pattern. The radar from a B-52 could pick up this triangular shaped pattern and the lead bombardier would know that is where not to bomb!

An apocrypha account was carried in the Stars and Stripes newspaper at the time of the KS siege. This account was entitled, "The Rats Are Leaving Khe Sanh". It seems that the base at KS was infested with rats. Rats that were prompted to leave the base and forage outside the base once the sustained and enormous Arc Light bombardment of the countryside surrounding KS had began. It seems the rats found suitable forage in the numerous remains of dead North Vietnamese soldiers killed during the carpet bombing!!



Thursday, February 19, 2004

This is coolbert: This declassified memo formerly classified TOP SECRET and authored by General De Puy [not the same De Puy that I have mentioned in previous posts] is most interesting. De Puy mentions the similarities that exists between the situation at Dien Bien Phu (DBP) and Khe Sanh (KS). To begin with, De Puy acknowledges that Westmoreland has made the conscious decision to fight the enemy at the time and place of the enemy's own choosing. This is normally a grave error for a military man to make. Also, De Puy is of the opinion that KS is in the eyes of the enemy a similar situation as to what existed at DBP. The rumor is repeated that General Giap is personally in charge of the operation at KS, as he was rumored to be in charge at DBP [having the senior enemy commander personally in charge of a military operation would carry great weight in the eyes of the U.S. commanders. Signifying the importance the enemy places on the operation]. Some of this intelligence is purported to come from high level prisoners, defectors and such, so who knows what this rumor is based on? De Puy notes the many comparisons between DBP and KS, these being:

1. The type of terrain at both locations is similar. Not identical, but similar.

2. Access to both garrisons is similar. Again, not identical, but similar.

3. A sequence of events is unfolding that is similar.

De Puy makes mention in the memo of the force strengths and ratios. Again repeats the size of the North Vietnamese force at being close to 40,000 troops. This does not mention whether this includes coolie/porter type of supply troops or is solely infantry assault troops. De Puy's tabulation of enemy fire support at KS seems to indicate the North Vietnamese had only half the artillery at KS that they had at DBP. This is misleading. While the absolute numbers are probably true, this does not tell the full story. At DBP, the fire support for the Viet Minh consisted mostly of 75 mm and 105 mm howitzers. At KS, the North Vietnamese were probably deploying 122 mm howitzers and 130 mm guns. These weapons possess an organic firepower beyond what was had by the Viet Minh at DBP. Fewer numbers does not mean less total firepower. In this case, perhaps greater firepower was present. Greater lethality and penetration capability against fortifications. De Puy misses this fact.

I am somewhat surprised in his summary, De Puy does not mention the possibility of eventual ground attack and assault on KS with the intention to destroy the garrison totally. For some reason this possibility has been omitted?


Wednesday, February 18, 2004

This is coolbert: The memo written by Ginsburgh for Rostow on the situation at Khe Sanh and comparing Khe Sanh (KS) to Dien Bien Phu (DBP) illustrates some difficulties that civilians, uninitiated, have in making such an analysis. In this memo Ginsburgh makes comparisons between the force ratios of the opposing sides at DBP and the ratios of the two sides at KS. Ginsburgh says in his memo that the ratio of Viet Minh to French was 8:1 at DBP, while the ratio of North Vietnamese to Marines at KS is a much more favorable 4:1. Of course, Ginsburgh includes the coolie/porter force the Viet Minh had at DBP in his calculations. This would be an unfair addition. You would only want to include actual assault troops. The ratio of such at DBP was indeed roughly 4:1 in favor of the Viet Minh. The 8:1 ratio exaggerates and places the situation at KS in a much more undeservedly favorable light. Also, Ginsburgh says in the memo that the friendly forces in the immediate area of KS actually outnumber the North Vietnamese by a slight amount. Again, this creates a favorable image of the situation that is not exactly true. During a siege, the attacker has the initiative and is on the offensive. The attacker can concentrate his troops and obtain a substantial numerical advantage at the time and place of his choosing. The defender, the U.S. side, does not have the initiative and must spread available forces out, cannot concentrate forces at a specific point, thereby negating any numerical advantage for the U.S. commander. Ginsburgh was creating a false impression, consciously or otherwise.


This is coolbert: The siege and defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu and the understanding of same are germane to an understanding of the siege of Khe Sanh in 1968. There are many similarities. Not totally the same similarities, but enough to warrant attention. It would seem that the North Vietnamese did intend to assault and destroy the base at Khe Sanh and kill or capture the entire Marine force defending. Such a victory by communist forces would surely have caused an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam. It is obvious that this possibility was much on the minds of the U.S. military and the President and his staff in the days leading up to the 1968 siege and the subsequent battle that was to follow.


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

This is coolbert: Which of the timeless verities of De Puy are considerations with regard to Dien Bien Phu? For each combatant, these verities seem to apply:

For the Viet Minh:

#1 Offensive action. The Viet Minh were not just content to surround the French for a long siege. The Viet Minh surrounded the French and attacked.

#5 Initiative. With the exception of the initial seizure of DBP by the French, the Viet Minh held the initiative throughout the siege. The French responded to whatever the Viet Minh did, not the other way around.

#7 Willing to pay the price. General Giap was willing to pay a heavy cost in lives lost to defeat the French at DBP. Willing to do so as he realized that the outcome of this siege would decide the war.

#9 Superior combat power. Giap not only possessed superior combat power, he used it in a superior way.

#10 Surprise. Suprise greatly enhanced the amount of firepower the Viet Minh were able to muster at DBP. This was vital to victory for the Viet Minh at DBP, the French having no counter.

#11 Firepower. Vital to the victory was the use of tremendous firepower by the Viet Minh. Not only numbers alone, but the constriction of the terrain allowed for no dispersion on the part of the French. They had no where to go.

For the French:

#2 Defense is the stronger form of combat. The French felt they could gain more by utilizing the strategic defensive. A smaller unit can do better easier on the defensive than by conducting an offensive. This was the consideration for the French to deploy their troops at DBP.

#3 Defensive posture is necessary. The French could not go on the offensive and hope to succeed against the Viet Minh at this stage of the war. Defensive strategy was the only thing that maybe would succeed.

#6 Fortifications. The French had not prepared properly for the firepower they faced at DBP. Unknown to them, the Viet Minh had amassed firepower that would be decisive. If the French had prepared positions that had overhead cover and deep dugouts, they would have had a better chance of successfully defending.

#8 Successful defense requires depth and reserves. The French at DBP had neither. No room to move and withdraw to, and no reserves could be called upon.


This is coolbert: Dien Bien Phu, Part IV.

Having made ready, both sides were prepared for the battle and both awaited the siege of Dien Bien Phu (DBP) to begin. General Giap commenced the fight, and used his superior combat power in a superior fashion. Massing all his 144 pieces of tube artillery and other fire support assets against one French strong point at a time, along with massed divisional size infantry assault, Giap was able to destroy three French strong points in the first three days of the siege!! One third of the French forces were destroyed in the first three days!! This massive firepower was not anticipated by the French, who could not respond in kind. The 24 artillery pieces of the French were sited in such a manner that they could not provide counter-battery fire against the Viet Minh [I personally doubt this would have had any impact on the results of the siege, given the disparity of the artillery assets of both sides]. French preparations for such an artillery assault were poor, this contributing greatly to their losses, no overhead cover or deep dugouts having been dug prior to the siege beginning. After losing three strong points in three days, the French now realized their terrible peril and hopelessness of their position. Overland resupply and reinforcement were impossible. The airstrip was so cratered from shelling as to make it impossible for aircraft to land and take off. And if engineer support repaired the runways, aircraft landing were terribly susceptible to attack from the Viet Minh artillery. Aerial resupply was difficult to very near impossible. The concentrated fire of the 36 AAA guns of the Viet Minh made approaching aircraft fly higher, not allowing for pin-point bombing from ground attack aircraft or for accurate air dropping of supplies. The French did reorganize their defenses and did reinforce with one parachute battalion parachuting into the garrison after the siege had begun. But the severe damage had already been done. The French defenders did proceed to inflict upon the Viet Minh very severe losses [at the end of the siege, 8000 Viet Minh and 2000 French troops were buried at DBP]. But this only prompted the determined Viet Minh to adopt traditional siege tactics, sapping, mining, trenching. In the end, whatever measures the French took were fruitless. The surrender of the French forces at DBP was the decisive battle of the first Indo-China war. But not as the French had foreseen!


I am trying to make up my mind about Senator Kerry. The following is the
first two paragraphs from his statement to the Senate in 1971. (Supposed to
be true - I read it on the internet so it must be true)

"Vietnam Veterans Against the War Statement by John Kerry to the Senate
Committee of Foreign Relations
April 23, 1971
I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans and say that several
months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably
discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes
committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes
committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all
levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did
happen in Detroit - the emotions in the room and the feelings of the men who
were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror
of what this country, in a sense, made them do."

"They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut
off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned
up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians,
razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs
for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of
South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and
very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this

Hullinger - I was in Vietnam when Kerry made this statement. I never saw
any atrocity, and would not have let one happen where I was. I spent 1.5
years as a Marine Lieutenant in Vietnam. I did see a lot of American
teenagers with guns who were nervous and trigger happy. You had to make
sure they did not do something stupid or wrong.

It is pretty clear to me that most of the second paragraph of the Kerry
statement is BS. I have met numerous guys (usually in bars) who go into
detailed war stories about their horrific time in Vietnam, the ears they cut
off, the pain, etc. Every story has been a lie. They usually claim to be Marines or
Green Berets or both. You ask them what unit they served in,
and they respond with some number that did not exist, or was an Army unit
when they are claiming to be a Marine. Ask them where they served, and you
are likely to hear a place where Marines never served, or they served all
over the country, or they blanked out where they served because of the trauma.
They usually do not know what year they served, or it was after we had pulled out.

We were trained that we were trying to win the hearts and minds of the
Vietnamese people. You had to treat them fairly - screw over them and they
would screw you. We went to great efforts not to hurt civilians. All kinds
of controls on air strikes and arty. All kinds of training that you were not
the Nazi's.

Now terrible things did happen. Throw 500,000 teenagers into a war, give
them rifles and lots of things to blow up, stir in confusion, hate, drugs,
and discontent, and you will get mistakes and atrocities. We know about My
Lai, where an Americal outfit killed numerous civilians. And there was a
Marine 5 man unit that murdered 16 civilians. Terrible thing. But this was
an aberration, not policy.

But you can't blame the American public for believing all these stories
about atrocities were true when you read such drivel from men who should
know better. And of course numerous ridiculous movies have reinforced these

I will keep an open mind about Kerry. He is more liberal than I am, Bush is
more conservative. Both guys are pretty capable individuals. Both patrician, rich,
went to Yale, silver spoon type of guys, but both have worked and achieved
when they could have spent their lives in idleness. Kerry served bravely in
Vietnam, Bush risked his life flying the F 102 Widowmaker, a dangerous airplane
built for the government by the low bid contractor, and maintained by part time
guys. Kerry has served well in the Senate, Bush as Governor and President,

In the end, we will hire one of them to run the country for the next four
years. And the republic will most likely survive and thrive during those
four years.

Craig Harlan Hullinger AICP
17255 S. 66th Ct
Tinley Park, IL 60477-3105
708 532 8991

Monday, February 16, 2004

This is coolbert: Dien Bien Phu, Part III:

After being caught off guard by the French decision to create a bastion in an area that they controlled, General Giap, the Viet Minh commander, decided after accessing the situation, to indeed respond to the French challenge. Giap decided also that this was to become the decisive battle of the first Indo-China war. A knock out blow from which the French would not recover. Victory would be to the Viet Minh! Giap mobilized his forces for the offensive that was to succeed. Four divisions of his best troops were brought to the area of DBP. This was an infantry force of about 40-50,000 troops. To support the assault force, a coolie/porter force of almost the same number [40-50,000] was created. This coolie/porter force was to keep the Viet Minh attackers supplied throughout the whole battle. What Giap was able to assemble in the form of fire support was most formidable. This was the key to the subsequent success of the Viet Minh. Giap was able to assemble about 144 pieces of tube artillery to employ against the French. The Viet Minh also possessed a substantial number of mortars, rocket launchers, and recoilless rifles that could also be brought to bear against the French defenders. In addition the Viet Minh had a substantial number of 37 mm AAA guns at DBP. These guns also were to prove vital to Viet Minh success. Organized into probably two battalions of 18 guns each. The substantial firepower amassed by the Viet Minh at DBP was unanticipated by the French, much to their subsequent woe.

[144 pieces of tube artillery was probably organized into two battalions per division, 36 tubes per division, 18 per battalion, one battalion each of 75 mm and one battalion each of 105 mm].

[Chairman Mao gleefully insulted the French Ambassador to China at a banquet by saying that the gunners of the artillery at DBP were Chinese. This may have been for the 105 mm artillery pieces, probably U.S. howitzers captured from the Nationalists].

[In contrast, the French at DBP possessed 24 pieces of tube artillery].


This is coolbert: Dien Bien Phu, Part II:

The initial stages of the French operation at Dien Bien Phu (DBP) went very well. A parachute battalion seized control of the valley area as planned. An engineer unit then expanded, enlarged, and lengthened the airstrip, to make it usable for a large scale airlift. Slightly greater than a divisions worth of French troops were then airlifted into the DBP area. Battalion strong points were then constructed, in anticipation of a Viet Minh offensive. Artillery was brought in, as well as light tanks. All this effort caught the Viet Minh by surprise. The French did make some calculations with their plan that were appreciated to be risky from the start. Risks, but manageable and acceptable risks. One was that an isolated garrison without a road connecting it to the outside could still be adequately supplied by airlift and airdrop. The French deliberately chose a location for their strategic defensive battle that had no chance for overland resupply or reinforcement. Such a garrison was felt to present such a tempting target for the Viet Minh that they could not resist launching an offensive, and offensive that would fail due to superior French firepower. These French calculations were later to prove incorrect and fatal for the French.


This is coolbert: Part I:

To properly understand the siege of Khe Sanh, you must first understand the siege of Dien Bien Phu (DBP) fourteen years earlier. Much of American perceptions of the situation that existed at Khe Sanh in 1968 was based upon the previous siege of DBP.

In 1954, the French and the insurgent Viet Minh had been in combat with one another for seven years. Neither was able to prevail over the other. Both sides had victories and defeats, although it can be said that the Viet Minh probably had the upper hand at the time of DBP. Nonetheless, neither side could prevail over the other. The French commander, Navarre, proposed a plan to inflict a serious defeat on Viet Minh forces. Navarre hoped that such a defeat would result in negotiations that would result in an honorable and reasonable peace favorable to the French. To inflict the desired damage on the Viet Minh forces, Navarre proposed a strategic defensive that would bring about a decisive battle with the Viet Minh. Fighting from defensive positions of thieir choosing, the French would be able to bring superior firepower upon the attacking enemy, resulting in catastrophic losses for the attacker. This decisive defensive battle was to be carried out in territory more or less ceded previously to the Viet Minh, a valley surrounded by small hills and mountainous terrain, Dien Bien Phu (DBP). Parachute units would seize the valley initially, and approximately a division of troops would be airlifted into the remote area to relieve the paratroops and prepare defensive positions. It was felt that by entering into and seizing terrain that was in Viet Minh territory, this would present a challenge to General Giap, the Viet Minh commander, a challenge that he could not ignore. Giap would be forced to respond to DBP with attacks that prove catastrophic to him.


This is coolbert: Here is an interesting observation concerning French military ability. During the Korean War, the French sent an infantry battalion to fight in Korea. This at the time the French were of course occupied with the fighting in Vietnam. This battalion was commanded by a Major General who took a demotion to Major just to command the battalion in combat in Korea!!?? Now, in Korea this battalion acquitted itself with distinction. Fought in combat with the Chinese communist troops and did very well. However, upon leaving Korea, this same battalion was sent to Vietnam where it was wiped out in fighting with the Viet Minh. How is this possible?


Sunday, February 15, 2004

This is coolbert. Reading those classified documents about Khe Sanh, the term COFRAM comes up from time to time. Now, this was the new improved conventional munition (ICM), called COntrolled FRAgmentation Munition. An artillery shell, fired from conventional artillery, but detonating over the target and showering the target with large numbers of sub-munition bomblets. These would hit the ground, and detonate, spewing out hundreds or thousands of steel balls from the bomblet. This ICM was a secret at the time and had not been used in combat. Such was the concern of U.S. commanders about Khe Sanh that release to use COFRAM was authorized by the President himself for the battle of Khe Sanh. Chairman of JCS at the time, General Wheeler also mentions the possible use of atomic munitions or chemical agents at Khe Sanh, if required in defense of the base. If the concern for the garrison was not so great, they would not have considered the use of such weaponry. Chemicals in the form of CS gas was used in the defense of the key terrain overlooking Khe Sanh. Now, atomic munitions were present in Vietnam during the war. Were considered for use against the Ho Chi Minh trail to crater and deny the enemy use of the trail for infiltration in South Vietnam. These weapons, according to an issue of Vietnam magazine, were stored at the Long Binh Junction depot, and were under command of an army Captain and a senior Warrant Officer. Of course, atomic weaponry was undoubtedly being carried by aircraft carriers off the coast of North Vietnam during the war [Yankee Station]. To be used in certain specific, desperation circumstances, I would guess. This army Captain, while on an unauthorized mission with Special Forces, was almost captured by determined communist forces. Seems they were after this guy in the first place. Perhaps the commies had good intelligence on the presence of these atomic munitions and wanted to capture the guy to find out what was what.


The election between Senator Kerry and President Bush brings all the Vietnam memories up. What you did or did not do was very important to each one of us then, but has not mattered much over the past 30 years. This campaign brings it all up again.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

This is coolbert: The two thirds (2/3) root law is an interesting phenomenon relating to nuclear weapons. When the U.S. Air Force discovered this, they must have thought this was the proverbial "sliced bread". This law says that a bunch of very small nuclear weapons going off at once on the same target will have the same effect as just one much larger weapon going off on the same target. How does this work? Take a 1 megaton nuclear bomb. Take 1000 [kt's, 1 megaton] and get the two thirds (2/3) root of 1000. It is about 100. What this says is that ten 10 kiloton bombs going off on the same target all at once has the same effect as one 1 megaton bomb. With this law, you can then design a whole lot of small bombs and target them against the same target and get the same effect as one very large bomb. Advantages here. A very big aircraft or missile dedicated to carrying the one big bomb can be superseded by a whole lot of smaller delivery systems of varying types. Aircraft of a variety of types, cruise missiles, artillery shells, etc. These all can be used to deliver the smaller nuclear weaponry, giving you much greater versatility and flexibility in your operational concepts. [Try this to verify your calculations. Take 100 and find the one and one half [1.5) power of 100. It is close to 1000. This is the value in kilotons (1 megaton) from which the original two thirds root calculation was made. This is a verification]


This is coolbert: Prisoners left behind in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. This was a hot button item for many years even after the war ended. Some expeditions were mounted to SE Asia in the forlorn hope of finding American prisoners alive. And refugees from Vietnam would from time to time report sightings of American POW's years after the war ended. There are several scenarios that play out here. One is from the French era, one from the American.

At the time the French agreed to abandon the war in Indo-China, they also at the time realized that this would result in abandonment of some of their troops caught in an impossible situation. These were Frenchmen of the GCMA units. GCMA was roughly equivalent to the U.S. Green Berets of the subsequent second Indo-China war. Dropped by parachute into very remote areas to organize the hill tribesmen [montagnards] to conduct guerilla warfare against the Viet Minh. In this they were very successful. But, when the French began to withdraw from SE Asia, these guys were in such remote areas, they could be gotten out. And this was known to all. In 1956, two years after the fighting in SE Asia was supposed to have ceased, the French radio monitors, according to Bernard Fall, heard a French voice on the radio. The voice said, "you bastards, you left us here to die. The least you could have done is sent us ammunition so that we could die fighting as men." And that was that. It was a member of the GCMA, still surviving and fighting in the remote areas of Vietnam and Laos. About the same time, the Viet Minh army newspaper reported that in fighting under difficult conditions, they had killed 300 Frenchmen and captured about 100 more. These were the GCMA men. Now, the reference to the difficult conditions the Viet Minh encountered is a veiled reference to the heavy casualties that they suffered. And of all those GCMA men in Nam two years after the war ended, only one managed to escape. One man walked 500 miles to safety, and was able to do so because he could speak many of the dialects of the hill tribesmen and could obtain food and shelter from them. Of those 100 Frenchmen captured, what happened to them? Well, no one knows. Other than from time to time during the American presence in Vietnam, rumors would persist of Frenchmen spotted in forced labor units in North Vietnam.

Now, even after the American withdrawal from Vietnam, rumors still persisted that Americans had been left behind and were being held by the communists. These rumors persisted for years after the war ended. Now, what is a possible source of these rumors? Well, it is a known fact, that at the end of the U.S. presence in Nam, about 1000 deserters were being harbored by certain persons in the Cholon [ethnic Chinese] quarter of Saigon. Being kept alive by funds remitted by their parents through wire transfer. The U.S. gov knew about this but was unable to apprehend these deserters. Just prior to the fall of Saigon in 1975, deuce and a half trucks with loudspeakers rambled through the Cholon district, announcing that the deserters should come out of hiding, as the commies were approaching and they would be in grave peril. Rather, "return to the U.S. side and take your chances." Not one deserter did so. What happened to these guys after the communist takeover? Well, I bet the results were not pretty. I cannot believe these guys were not rounded up by the communists and put to hard labor, and maybe even executed over time. Starved, beaten, shot, worked to death. Their plight must have been harsh.


This story below sounds correct to me, from what I know of the Guard and Reserves in 1972. And I do know that flying jet fighters is a seriously dangerous business, probably more dangerous then what a lot of us did in Vietnam. I have seen four pilots die in accidents state side flying their planes.

George Bush and I were lieutenants and pilots in the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS), Texas Air National Guard (ANG) from 1970 to 1971. We had the same flight and squadron commanders (Maj. William Harris and Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, both now deceased). While we were not part of the same social circle outside the base, we were in the same fraternity of
fighter pilots, and proudly wore the same squadron patch. It is quite frustrating to hear the daily cacophony from the left and Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, et al., about Lt. Bush escaping his military responsibilities by hiding in the Texas ANG. In the Air Guard during the Vietnam War, you were always subject to call-up, as many Air National Guardsmen are finding out today. If the 111th FIS and Lt. Bush did not go to Vietnam, blame President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, not lowly Lt. Bush. They deliberately avoided use of the Guard and Reserves for domestic political calculations, knowing that a draftee only stirred up the concerns of one family, while a call-up got a
whole community's attention.

The mission of the 147th Fighter Group and its subordinate 111th FIS, Texas ANG, and the airplane it possessed, the F-102, was air defense. It was focused on defending the continental United States from Soviet nuclear bombers. The F-102 could not drop bombs and would have been useless in Vietnam. A pilot program using ANG volunteer pilots in F-102s (called Palace Alert) was scrapped quickly after the airplane proved to be unsuitable to the war effort. Ironically, Lt. Bush did inquire about this program but was advised by an ANG supervisor (Maj. Maurice Udell, retired) that he did not have the desired experience (500 hours) at the time and that the program was winding down and not accepting more volunteers.

If you check the 111th FIS records of 1970-72 and any other ANG squadron, you will find other pilots excused for career obligations and conflicts. The Bush excusal in 1972 was further facilitated by a change in the unit's mission, from an operational fighter squadron to a training squadron with a new airplane, the F-101, which required that more pilots be available for full-time instructor duty rather than part-time traditional reservists with outside employment. The winding down of the Vietnam War in 1971 provided a flood of exiting active-duty pilots for these instructor jobs, making part-timers like Lt. Bush and me somewhat superfluous. There was a huge glut of pilots in the Air Force in 1972, and with no cockpits available to put them in, many were shoved into nonflying desk jobs. Any pilot could have left the Air
Force or the Air Guard with ease after 1972 before his commitment was up because there just wasn't room for all of them anymore.

Sadly, few of today's partisan pundits know anything about the environment of service in the Reserves in the 1970s. The image of a reservist at that time is of one who joined, went off for six months' basic training, then came back and drilled weekly or monthly at home, with two weeks of "summer camp." With the knowledge that Mr. Johnson and Mr. McNamara were not going to call out the Reserves, it did become a place of refuge for many wanting to avoid Vietnam. There was one big exception to this abusive use of the Guard to avoid the draft, and that was for those who wanted to fly, as pilots or crew members. Because of the training required, signing up for this duty meant up to 21 2 years of active duty for training alone, plus a high probability of mobilization. A fighter-pilot candidate selected by the Guard (such as Lt. Bush and me) would be spending the next two years on active duty going through basic training (six weeks), flight training (one year), survival training (two weeks) and combat crew training for his aircraft (six to nine months), followed by local checkout (up to three more months) before he was even deemed combat-ready. Because the draft was just two years, you sure weren't getting out of duty being an Air Guard pilot. If the unit to which you were going back was an F-100, you were mobilized for Vietnam. Avoiding service? Yeah, tell that to those guys.

The Bush critics do not comprehend the dangers of fighter aviation at any time or place, in Vietnam or at home, when they say other such pilots were risking their lives or even dying while Lt. Bush was in Texas. Our Texas ANG unit lost several planes right there in Houston during Lt. Bush's tenure, with fatalities. Just strapping on one of those obsolescing F-102s was risking one's life.

Critics such as Mr. Kerry (who served in Vietnam, you know), Terry McAuliffe and Michael Moore (neither of whom served anywhere) say Lt. Bush abandoned his assignment as a jet fighter pilot without explanation or authorization and was AWOL from the Alabama Air Guard. Well, as for abandoning his assignment, this is untrue. Lt. Bush was excused for a period to take employment in Florida for a congressman and later in Alabama for a Senate campaign. Excusals for employment were common then and are now in the Air Guard, as pilots frequently are in career transitions, and most commanders (as I later was) are flexible in letting their charges take care of career affairs until they return or transfer to another unit near their new employment. Sometimes they will transfer temporarily to another unit to keep them on the active list until they can return home. The receiving unit often has little use for a transitory member, especially in a
high-skills category like a pilot, because those slots usually are filled and, if not filled, would require extensive conversion training of up to six months, an unlikely option for a temporary hire. As a commander, I would put such "visitors" in some minor administrative post until they went back home. There even were a few instances when I was unaware that they were on my roster because the paperwork often lagged.

Today, I can't even recall their names. If a Lt. Bush came into my unit to "pull drills" for a couple of months, I wouldn't be too involved with him because I would have a lot more important things on my table keeping the unit combat ready. Another frequent charge is that, as a member of the Texas ANG, Lt. Bush twice ignored or disobeyed lawful orders, first by refusing to report for a required physical in the year when drug testing first became part of the exam, and second by failing to report for duty at the disciplinary unit in Colorado to which he had been ordered. Well, here are the facts:
First, there is no instance of Lt. Bush disobeying lawful orders in reporting for a physical, as none would be given. Pilots are scheduled for their annual flight physicals in their birth month during that month's weekend drill assembly the only time the clinic is open. In the Reserves, it is not uncommon to miss this deadline by a month or so for a variety of reasons: The clinic is closed that month for special training; the individual is out of town on civilian business; etc.
If so, the pilot is grounded temporarily until he completes the physical. Also, the formal drug testing program was not instituted by the Air Force until the 1980s and is done randomly by lot, not as a special part of a flight physical, when one easily could abstain from drug use because of its date certain. Blood work is done, but to ensure a healthy pilot, not
confront a drug user.

Second, there was no such thing as a "disciplinary unit in Colorado" to which Lt. Bush had been ordered. The Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver is a repository of the paperwork for those no longer assigned to a specific unit, such as retirees and transferees. Mine is there now, so I guess I'm "being disciplined." These "disciplinary units" just don't
exist. Any discipline, if required, is handled within the local squadron, group or wing, administratively or judicially. Had there been such an infraction or court-martial action, there would be a record and a reflection in Lt. Bush's performance review and personnel folder. None exists, as was confirmed in The Washington Post in 2000. Finally, the Kerrys, Moores and McAuliffes are casting a terrible slander on those who served in the Guard, then and now. My Guard career parallels
Lt. Bush's, except that I stayed on for 33 years. As a guardsman, I even got to serve in two campaigns. In the Cold War, the air defense of the United States was borne primarily by the Air National Guard, by such people as Lt. Bush and me and a lot of others. Six of those with whom I served in those years never made their 30th birthdays because they died in
crashes flying air-defense missions.

While most of America was sleeping and Mr. Kerry was playing antiwar games with Hanoi Jane Fonda, we were answering 3 a.m. scrambles for who knows what inbound threat over the Canadian subarctic, the cold North Atlantic
and the shark-filled Gulf of Mexico. We were the pathfinders in showing that the Guard and Reserves could become reliable members of the first team in the total force, so proudly evidenced today in Afghanistan and Iraq. It didn't happen by accident. It happened because back at the nadir of Guard fortunes in the early '70s, a lot of volunteer guardsman showed they were ready and able to accept the responsibilities of soldier and citizen then and now. Lt. Bush was a kid whose congressman father encouraged him to serve in the Air National Guard. We served proudly in the Guard. Would
that Mr. Kerry encourage his children and the children of his colleague senators and congressmen to serve now in the Guard.

In the fighter-pilot world, we have a phrase we use when things are starting to get out of hand and it's time to stop and reset before disaster strikes. We say, "Knock it off." So, Mr. Kerry and your friends who want to slander the Guard: Knock it off.

U.S. Air Force/Air National Guard
Herndon, Va.5

Friday, February 13, 2004

This is coolbert: To combat the U.S. invasion of Japan [Downfall], the Japanese intended to make widespread use of suicide bent troops. Now, this tactic has positive and negative results. The kamikaze aircraft at Okinawa are the only military force that accounted for more casualties than they claimed. The kamikaze claimed that at Okinawa they had sunk something like two hundred U.S. naval ships. That actual total was over two hundred fifty or so. But at a very heavy loss to the kamikaze. And suicide tactics can also backfire too. Such tactics create an impression in your opposition that the force using suicide is comprised of hopeless fanatics that cannot be negotiated with or dealt with in the normal manner. Much as we see in the Middle East today. Lets the recipient of the suicidal attacks know what exactly the war is about and leaves no doubt in their minds as to the intention of the suicidal enemy. Expect the persons on the receiving end of suicidal attacks to become themselves just that much more fanatical, uncompromising and determined to defeat you, and much more ruthless in their methods too. See what is happening in the Middle East right now.


This is coolbert: In that memo for Westmoreland about Dien Bien Phu (DBP), the mention is made of internal deserters. These are persons who during the battle behaved in such disgraceful manner that they were counted as ineffectives and no longer took part in the defense. This was not a small number of the French forces either, this was a significant portion. Surely a sign of a leadership breakdown. Another interesting mention in the memo is of the inclusion of Algerian and French prostitutes. These were brought along to service the North African and Legionairre troops fighting at DBP. What the hell were the French high command thinking??!!

Now, as for the internal deserters, there is a parallel in WW1. On the Western Front, existed a rumor and still is a belief, that entire units of deserters roamed the battlefield on both sides, drifting in and out of trench lines, dugouts, etc. Wandering around the battlefield during "quiet periods", mostly at night time. Scrounging whatever they could for their survival. This is probably apocrypha and can never be verified or denied. But given the desperation present in such situations, it is not difficult to imagine such behavior.


Dien Bien Phu.

This is coolbert:

This unclassified memo written to Westmoreland just prior to the siege of Khe Sanh starting is most interesting.

It does seem to suggest that Westmoreland did have the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu (DBP) on his mind.

Did want to understand what happened at DBP and why the French lost.

Two interesting points from that memo.

* The French force did consist of mixed troops. French, Legionairres, North Africans, Vietnamese, Tai [montagnards]. Such a mix cannot fight well.

* Of special interest is the inclusion in the memo that parachutist reinforcements send to DBP included over six hundred "legs" [non-airborne] troops making their first jump when they parachuted into DBP. These were men who made the jump without any prior training. They did this knowing the risks, and knowing that the battle was lost and they were doomed to be killed or captured in the subsequent fighting. They wanted to participate in the disaster and did so willingly.

Knowing what did not succeed in the past is a way to know what will succeed in the future?


Thursday, February 12, 2004

It is always sad that we used the atomic bomb on Japan. But the alternative would have probably resulted in more casualties for the US and Japan.


This is coolbert:

One thing about an invasion of Japan and the dropping of the a-bomb that is only appreciated in a minor way.

Japan was trying to surrender.

But under their terms.

* NO occupation.
* NO disarming of the military.
* NO concessions about overseas territories [Formosa, Korea, etc.].

The Japanese wanted a negotiated settlement that would not be too unfavorable to them.

This was totally against what the Allies and the Soviets had fought for during the war.

It was decided early that because of the nature of the enemy being fought in WW2, unconditional surrender was the only course to be taken by the allies.

And this was the course taken with regard to Italy and Germany.

Why would Japan have been such an exception?

It would not have been!

Without an cessation of hostilities the war would have continued in the manner that it was already taking until Japan surrendered unconditionally or the place was more or less obliterated.

The Soviets had already entered the war and annihilated the Kwangtung Army of Manchuria.

Further warfare would have probably seen the Soviets invade Hokkaido and probably further south too. I am not sure the Soviet capability in this area, but it may have been more than would have been anticipated.


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This is coolbert: If an invasion of Japan had actually occurred during WW2, the battleships of the U.S. Navy would have been put to good use in several ways. The battleships the Navy possessed at the time could be put into two categories. One was the WW1 era battleships, refurbished, that sported 14 inch guns in their main batteries. The second category was the modern fast battleships of the Iowa Class, sporting 16 inch main guns. The former were to be used as floating pillboxes. At the invasion beaches, accompanying the landing troops, would be the WW1 battleships. With skeletal crews, the ships would be run aground, and the ships basically evacuated except for gun crews. These gun crews would fire in support of the landing troops, additional ammo, powder, food, etc., being brought to them as needed. The second category of battleships, the Iowa Class ships, Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, would join forces and cruise up and down the coast of Japan, bombarding all targets within range of the sixteen inch guns. Since 90 % of the Japanese population lived within 10 miles of the coast line, as did most of the Japanese infrastructure, the battleships would be presented with almost an unlimited range of targets. Anything within reach would be fair game. These fast battleship sorties would continue before, and during the invasion and subsequent conquest of Japan. These ships would have been able to wreak real crippling devastation.


Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Top Secret
Operation Downfall

by James Martin Davis
The Story of the Invasion of Japan

Deep in the recesses of the National Archives in Washington, DC, hidden for over four decades, lie thousands of pages of yellowing and dusty documents. These documents, which are now declassified, still bear the stamp, "Top Secret." Contained in these little examined documents are the detailed plans for "Operation Downfall," the code name for the scheduled American invasion of Japan.

Only a few Americans in 1945, and fewer Americans today, are aware of the elaborate plans that had been prepared for the American invasion of the Japanese home islands. Even fewer are aware of how close America actually came to launching that invasion and of what the Japanese had in store for us had the invasion of Japan actually been launched.

"Operation Downfall" was prepared in its final form during the spring and summer of 1945. this plan called for two massive military undertakings to be carried out in succession, and aimed at the very heart of the Japanese Empire.

In the first invasion, in what was code named "Operation Olympic", American combat troops would be landed by amphibious assault during the early morning hours of November 1, 1945, on Japan itself. After an unprecedented naval and aerial bombardment, 14 combat divisions of American soldiers and marines would land on heavily fortified and defended Kyushu, the southernmost of the Japanese home islands.

On March 1, 1946, the second invasion, code named "Operation Coronet", would send at least 22 more American combat divisions against one million Japanese defenders to assault the main island of Honshu and the Tokyo Plain in a final effort to obtain the unconditional surrender of Japan.

With the exception of a part of the British Pacific Fleet, "Operation Downfall" was to be a strictly American operation. It called for the utilization of the entire United States Marine Corps, the employment of the entire United States Navy in the Pacific, and for the efforts of the 7th Air Force, the 8th Air Force recently deployed from Europe, the 20th Air Force, and for the American Far Eastern Air Force. Over 1.5 million combat soldiers, with millions more in support, would be directly involved in these two amphibious assaults. A total of 4.5 million American servicemen, over 40% of all servicemen still in uniform in 1945, were to be a part of "Operation Downfall."

The invasion of Japan was to be no easy military undertaking and casualties were expected to be extremely heavy. Admiral William Leahy estimated that there would be over 250,000 Americans killed or wounded on Kyushu alone. General Charles Willoughby, MacArthur's Chief of Intelligence, estimated that American casualties from the entire operation would be one million men by the fall of 1946. General Willoughby's own intelligence staff considered this to be a conservative estimate.

During the summer of 1945, America had little time to prepare for such a monumental endeavor, but our top military leaders were in almost unanimous agreement that such an invasion was necessary.

While a naval blockade and strategic bombing of Japan was considered to be useful, General Douglas MacArthur considered a naval blockade of Japan ineffective to bring about an unconditional surrender. General George C. Marshall was of the opinion that air power over Japan as it was over German, would not be sufficient to bring an end to the war. While most of our top military minds believed that a continued naval blockade and the strategic bombing campaign would further weaken Japan, few of them believed that the blockade or the bombing would bring about her unconditional surrender. The advocates for invasion agreed that while a naval blockade chokes, it does not kill; and though strategic bombing might destroy cities, it still leaves whole armies intact. Both General Dwight D. Eisenhower and General Ira C. Eaker, the Deputy Commander of the Army Air Force agreed. So on May 25, 1945, the Combined Chiefs of Staff, after extensive deliberation, issued to MacArthur, to Admiral Chester Nimitz, and to Army Air Force General "Hap" Arnold, the Top Secret directive to proceed with the invasion of Kyushu. The target date was set, for obvious reasons after the typhoon season, for November 1, 1945.

On July 24th, President Harry S. Truman approved the report of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, which called for the initiation of Operations "Olympic" and "Coronet." On July 26th, the United Nations issued the Potsdam Proclamation, which called upon Japan to surrender unconditionally or face "total destruction." Three days later, on July 29th, DOMEI, the Japanese governmental news agency, broadcast to the world that Japan would ignore the proclamation of Potsdam and would refuse to surrender.

During this same time period, the intelligence section of the Federal Communications Commission monitored internal Japanese radio broadcasts, which disclosed that Japan had closed all its schools to mobilize its school children---it was arming its civilian population and forming it into national civilian defense units, and that it was turning Japan into a nation of fortified caves and underground defenses in preparation for the expected invasion of their homeland.

"Operation Olympic", the invasion of Kyushu, would come first. Olympic called for a four-pronged assault from the sea on Kyushu. Its purpose was to seize and control the southern one-third of that island and to establish American naval and air bases there in order to effectively intensify the bombings of Japanese industry, to tighten the naval blockade of the home islands, to destroy units of the main Japanese army, and to support "Coronet", the scheduled invasion of the Tokyo Plain, that was to come the following March.

On October 27th, the preliminary invasion would begin with the 40th Infantry Division would land on a series of small islands to the west and southwest of Kyushu. At the same time, the 158th Regimental Combat Team would invade and occupy a small island 28 miles to the south of Kyushu. On these islands, seaplane bases would be established and radar would be set up to provide advance air warning for the invasion fleet, to serve as fighter direction centers for the carrier based aircraft and to provide advance air warning for the invasion fleet, should things not go well on the day of the invasion.

As the invasion grew imminent, the massive power of the United States Navy would approach Japan. The naval forces scheduled to take part in the actual invasion consisted of two awesome fleets---the Third and the Fifth.

The Third Fleet, under Admiral "Bull" Halsey, with its big guns and naval aircraft, would provide strategic support for the operation against Honshu and Hokkaido in order to impede the movement of Japanese reinforcements south to Kyushu. The third Fleet would be composed of a powerful group of battleships, heavy cruisers, destroyers, dozens of support ships, plus three fast carrier task groups. From these fast carriers, hundreds of Navy fighters, dive bombers and torpedo planes would hit targets all over the island of Honshu.

The Fifth Fleet, under Admiral Spruance, would carry our invasion troops. This Fleet would consist of almost 3,000 ships, including fast carriers and escort carrier task forces, a gunfire and covering force for bombardment and fire support, and a joint expeditionary force. This expeditionary force would include thousands of additional landing craft of all types and sizes.

Several days before the invasion, the battleships, heavy cruisers and destroyers would pour thousands of tons of high explosives into the target areas, and they would not cease the bombardment until after the landing forces had been launched.

During the early morning hours of November 1, 1945, the actual invasion would commence. Thousands of American soldiers and marines would pour ashore on beaches all along the eastern, southeastern, southern and western coasts of Kyushu.

The Eastern Assault Force, consisting of the 25th, 33rd and the 41st Infantry Divisions, would land near Miyaski, at beaches called Austin, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Cord (?) (Ford?) and move inland to attempt to capture this city and it's nearby airfield.

The Southern Force, consisting of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 43rd Division and Americal Division would land inside Ariake Bay at beaches labeled DeSoto, Dusenberg, Essex, Ford and Franklin and attempt to capture Shibushi and to capture, further inland, the city of Kanoya and its surround airfield.

On the western shore of Kyushu, at beaches Pontiac, Reo, Rolls Royce, Saxon, Star, Studebaker, Stutz, Winton and Zephyr, the V Amphibious Corps would land the 2nd, 3rd and 5th Marine Divisions, sending half of its force inland to Send and the other half to the port city of Kagoshima.

On November 4th, the reserve force, consisting of the 81st and 98th Infantry Division, and the 11th Airborne Division, after feigning an attack off the island of Shikoku would be landed, if not needed elsewhere, near Kaimondake, near the southern most tip of Kagoshima Bay, at beaches designated Locomobile, Lincoln, LaSalle, Hupmobile, Moon, Mercedes, Maxwell, Overland, Oldsmobile, Packard and Plymouth.

The objective of "Olympic" was to seize and control the island of Kyushu in order to use it for the launching platform for "Coronet", which was hoped to be a final knockout blow aimed at Tokyo and the Kanto Plain. "Olympic" was not just a plan for invasion, but for conquest and occupation as well. It was expected to take four months to achieve its objective, with three fresh American Divisions per month to be landed in support of that operation if needed. These additional troops were to be taken from the units scheduled for "Coronet."

If all went well with "Olympic", on March 1, 1946, "Coronet" would be launched. "Coronet" would be twice the size of "Olympic", with as many as 28 American Divisions to be landed on Honshu, the main Japanese island.

On March 1, 1946, all along the coast east of Tokyo, the American 1st Army would land the 5th, 7th, 27, 44th, 86th and 96th Infantry divisions along with 1st, 4th, and 6th Marine Divisions

At Sagami Bay, just south of Tokyo, the entire 8th and 10th Armies would strike north and east to clear the long western shore of Tokyo Bay, and attempt to go as far as Yokohoma. The assault troops, landing to the south of Tokyo would be the 4th, 6th, 8th, 24th, 31st, 32nd, 37th, 38th, and 87th Infantry Divisions, along with the 13th and 20th Armored Divisions.

Following the initial assault, eight more Divisions---the 2nd, 28th, 35th, 91st, 97th and 104th Infantry Divisions and the 11th Airborne division--- would be landed. If additional troops were needed, as expected, other Divisions re-deployed from Europe and undergoing training in the United States would be shipped to Japan in what was hoped to be the final push.

The key to victory in Japan rested with the success of "Olympic" at Kyushu. Without the success of the Kyushu campaign, "Coronet" might never be launched. The key to victory in Kyushu rested with our firepower, much of which was to be delivered by carrier launched aircraft.

At the outset of the invasion of Kyushu, waves of Helldivers, Dauntless dive Bombers, Avengers, Corairs and Hellcats would take off to bomb, rocket and strafe enemy defenses, gun emplacements and troop concentrations along the beaches. In all, there would be 66 aircraft carriers loaded with 2,649 naval and marine aircraft to be used for close-in air support for the soldiers hitting the beaches.

These planes were also the fleet's primary protection against Japanese attack from the air. Had "Olympic" begun, these planes would be needed to provide an umbrella of protection for the soldiers and sailors of the invasion. Captured Japanese documents and post-war interrogation of Japanese military leaders disclose that our intelligence concerning the number of Japanese planes available for the defense of the home islands was dangerously in error.

In the last months of the war, our military leaders were deathly afraid of the Japanese "kamikaze" and with good cause. During Okinawa alone, Japanese aircraft sank 32 ships and damaged over 400 others. During the summer months, our top brass had concluded that the Japs had spent their air force , since American bombers and fighters flew unmolested over the shores of Japan on a daily basis.

What our military leaders did not know was that by the end of July, 1945, as part of the Japanese overall plan for the defense of their country, they had been saving all aircraft, fuel and pilots in reserve, and had been feverishly building new planes for the decisive battle for their homeland. The Japs had abandoned, for a time, their suicide attacks in order to preserved their pilots and planes to hurl at our invasion fleets.

The plan for the final defense of Japan was called "Ketsu-Go", and a large part of that plan called for the use of the Japanese Naval and Air Forces in defense. Japan had been divided into districts, and in each of these districts hidden airfields were being built and hangers and aircraft were being dispersed and camouflaged in great numbers. Units were being trained, deployed and given final instructions. Still other suicide units were being scattered throughout the islands of Kyushu and elsewhere, and held in reserve; and for the first time in the war, the Army and Navy Air Forces would be operating under one single unified command.

As part of the "Ketsu-Go", the Japanese were building 20 suicide take-off strips in southern Kyushu, with underground hangers for an all-out offensive. In Kyushu alone, the Japanese had 35 camouflaged airfield and 9 seaplane bases. As part of their overall plan, these seaplanes were to be used in suicide missions as well.

On the night before the invasion, 50 seaplane bombers, along with 100 former carrier aircraft and 50 land based army planes were to be launched in a direct suicide attack on the fleet.

The Japanese 5th Naval Air Fleet and the 6th Air Army had 58 more airfields on Korea, Western Honshu and Shikoku, which also were to be used for massive suicide attacks. Allied intelligence had established that the Japanese had no more than 2,500 aircraft of which they guessed only 300 would be deployed in suicide attacks. However, in August of 1945, unknown to our intelligence, the Japanese still had 5,651 Army and 7,074 Navy aircraft, for a total of 12,725 planes of all types. During July alone, 1, 131 new planes were built and almost 100 new underground aircraft plants were in various stages of construction.

Every village had some type of aircraft manufacturing activity. Hidden in mines, railway tunnels, under viaducts and in basements of department stores, work was being done to construct new planes.

Additionally, the Japanese were building newer and more effective models of the "Okka" which was a rocket propelled bomb, much like the German V-1, but piloted to its final destination by a suicide pilot. In March of 1945, the Japanese had ordered 750 of the earlier models of the "Okka" to be produced. These aircraft were to be launched from other aircraft. By the summer of 1945, the Japanese were building the newer models, which were to be catapulted out of caves in Kyushu to be used against the invasion ships which would be only minutes away.

At Okinawa, while almost 10,000 sailors died, as a result of kamikaze attacks, the kamikaze there had been relatively ineffective, primarily because of distance. Okinawa was located 350 miles from Kyushu and even experienced pilots flying from Japan became lost, ran out of fuel or did not have sufficient flying time to pick out a suitable target. Furthermore, early in the Okinawa campaign, the Americans had established a land based fighter command which, together with the carrier aircraft, provided an effective umbrella of protection against kamikaze attacks.

During "Olympic", the situation would be reversed. Kamikaze pilots would have little distance to travel, would have considerable staying time over the invasion fleet, and would have little difficulty picking out suitable targets. Conversely, the American land based aircraft would be able to provide only minimal protection against suicide attacks, since these American aircraft would have little flying time over Japan before they would be forced to return to their bases on Okinawa and elsewhere to refuel.

Also, different from Okinawa would be the Japanese choice of targets. At Okinawa aircraft carriers and destroyers were the principal targets of the kamikaze. the targets for the "Olympic" invasion were to be the transports carrying the American troops who were to participate in the landing. The Japanese concluded they could kill far more Americans by sinking one troop ship than they could by sinking 30 destroyers. their aim was to kill thousands of American troops at sea, thereby removing them from the actual landing. "Ketsu-Go" called for the destruction of 700 to 800 American ships.

When invasion became imminent, "Ketsu-Go" called for a four-fold aerial plan of attack. While American ships were approaching Japan, but still in the open seas, an initial force of 2,000 army and navy fighters were to fight to the death in order to control the skies over Kyusku. A second force of 330 specially trained navy combat pilots were to take off and attack the main body of the task force to keep it from using its fire support and air cover to adequately protect the troops carrying transports. While these two forces were engaged, a third force of 825 suicide planes was to hit the American transports in the open seas.

As the convoys approached their anchorage's, another 2,000 suicide planes were to be detailed in waves of 200 to 300, to be used in hour by hour attacks that would make Okinawa seem tame in comparison.

American troops would be arriving in approximately 180 lightly armed transports and 70 cargo vessels. Given the number of Japanese planes and the short distance to target, certainly a number of the troop carrying transports would have hit.

By mid-morning of the first day of the invasion, most of the American land based aircraft would be forced to return to their bases, leaving the defense against the suicide planes to the carrier pilots and the shipboard gunners. Initially, these pilots and gunners would have met with considerable success, but after the third, fourth and fifth waves of Japanese aircraft, a significant number of kamikaze most certainly would have broken through.

Carrier pilots crippled by fatigue would have to land time and time again to rearm and refuel. Navy fighters would break down from lack of needed maintenance. Guns would malfunction on both aircraft and combat vessels from the heat of continuous firing, and ammunition expended in such abundance would become scarce. Gun crews would be exhausted by nightfall, but still the waves of kamikazes would continue. With our fleet hovering off the beaches, all remaining Japanese aircraft would be committed to nonstop mass suicide attacks, which the Japanese hoped could be sustained for ten days.

The Japanese planned to coordinate their kamikaze and conventional air strikes with attacks from the 40 remaining conventional submarines from the Japanese Imperial Navy, beginning when the invasion fleet was 180 miles off Kyushu. As our invasion armada grew nearer, the rate of submarine attacks would increase. In addition to attacks by the remaining fleet submarines, some of which were to be armed with "Long Lance" torpedoes with a range of 20 mines, the Japanese had more frightening plans for death from the sea.

By the end of the war, the Imperial Japanese Navy still had 23 destroyers and two cruisers which were operational. These ships were to be used to counterattack the American invasion and a number of the destroyers were to be beached along the invasion beaches at the last minute to be used as anti-invasion gun platforms.

As early as 1944, Japan had established a special naval attack unit, which was the counterpart of the special attack units of the air, to be used in the defense of the homeland. These units were to be saved for the invasion and would make widespread use of midget submarines, human torpedoes and exploding motorboats against the Americans.

Once offshore, the invasion fleet would be forced to defend not only against the suicide attacks from the air, but would also be confronted with suicide attacks from the sea.

Attempting to sink our troop carrying transports would be almost 300 Kairyu suicide submarines. these two-man subs carried a 1,320 pound bomb in their nose and were to be used in close-in ramming attacks. By the end of the war, the Japanese had 215 Kairyu available with 207 more under construction.

With a crew of five, the Japanese Koruy suicide submarine, carrying an even larger explosive charge, was also to be used against the American vessels. by August, the Japanese had 115 Koryu completed, with 496 under construction.

Especially feared by our Navy were the Kaitens, which were difficult to detect, and which were to be used against our invasion fleet just off the beaches. These Kaitens were human torpedoes over 60 feet long, each carried a warhead of over 3,500 pounds and each was capable of sinking the largest of American naval vessels. The Japanese had 120 shore-based Kaitens, 78 of which were in the Kyushu area as early as August.

Finally, the Japanese had almost 4,000 Navy Shinyo and Army Liaison motor boats, which were also armed with high explosive warheads, and which were to be used in night time attacks against our troop carrying ships.

The principal goal of the special attack units of the air and of the sea was to shatter the invasion before the landing. By killing the combat troops aboard ships and sinking the attack transports and cargo vessels, the Japanese were convinced the Americans would back off or become so demoralized that they would then accept a less than unconditional surrender and a more honorable and face-saving end for the Japanese.

In addition to destroying as many of the larger American ships as possible, "Ketsu-Go" also called for the annihilation of the smaller offshore landing craft carrying our G.I.'s to the invasion beaches.

The Japanese had devised a network of beach defenses, consisting of electronically detonated mines farthest offshore, three lines of suicide divers, followed by magnetic mines and still other mines planted all over the beaches themselves.

A fanatical part of the last line of maritime defense was the Japanese suicide frogmen, called "Fukuryu." These "crouching dragons", were divers armed with lunge mines, each capable of sinking a landing craft up to 950 tons. There divers, numbering in the thousands, could stay submerged for up to ten hours, and were to thrust their explosive charges into the bottom of landing craft and, in effect, serve as human mines.

As horrible as the defense of Japan would be off the beaches, it would be on Japanese soil that the American armed forces would face the most rugged and fanatical defense that had ever been encountered in any of the theaters during the entire war.

Throughout the island-hopping Pacific campaign, our troops had always outnumbered the Japanese by two and sometimes three to one. In Japan it would be different. by virtue of a combination of cunning , guesswork and brilliant military reasoning, a number of Japan's top military leaders were able to astutely deuce, not only when, but where, the United States would land their first invasion forces. The Japanese positioned their troops accordingly.

Facing the 14 American Divisions landing at Kyushu would be 14 Japanese Divisions, 7 independent mixed brigades, 3 tank brigades and thousands of specially trained Naval Landing forces. On Kyushu the odds would be three to two in favor of the Japanese, with 790,000 enemy defenders against 550,000 Americans. This time the bulk of the Japanese defenders would not be the poorly trained and ill-equipped labor battalions that the Americans had faced in the earlier campaigns. The Japanese defenders would be the hard-core of the Japanese Home Army. These troops were well fed and well equipped and were linked together all over Kyushu by instantaneous communications. They were familiar with the terrain, had stockpiles of arms and ammunition, and had developed an effective system of transportation and re-supply almost invisible from the air. Many of these Japanese troops were the elite of the Japanese army, and they were swollen with a fanatical fighting spirit that convinced them that they could defeat these American invaders that had come to defile their homeland.

Coming ashore, the American Eastern amphibious assault forces at Miyazaki would face the Japanese 154th Division which straddled the city, the Japanese 212th Division on the coast immediately to the north, and the 156th Division on the coast immediately to the south. Also in place and prepared to launch a counter-attack against our Eastern force were the Japanese 25th and 77th Divisions.

Awaiting the Southeastern attack force at Ariake Bay was the entire Japanese 86th Division, and at least one independent mixed infantry brigade.

On the western shores of Kyushu, the Marines would face the most brutal opposition. Along the invasion beaches would be the 146th, 206th and 303rd Japanese Divisions, along with the 6th Tank Brigade, the 125th Mixed Infantry Brigade and the 4th Artillery Command. Additionally, components of the 25th and 77th Divisions would also be poised to launch counterattacks.

If not needed to reinforce the primary landing beaches, the American Reserve Force would be landed at the base of Kagoshima Bay on November 4th, where they would be immediately confronted by two mixed infantry brigades, parts of two infantry divisions and thousands of the naval landing forces who had undergone combat training to support ground troops in defense.

All along the invasion beaches, our troops would face coastal batteries, anti-landing obstacles, and an elaborate network of heavily fortified pillboxes, bunkers, strong points and underground fortresses.

As our soldiers waded ashore, they would do so through intense artillery and mortar fire from pre-registered batteries as they worked their way through tetrahedral and barbed wired entanglements so arranged to funnel them into the muzzle of these Japanese guns.

On the beaches and beyond would be hundreds of Japanese machine gun positions, beach mines, booby traps, trip-wire mines, and sniper units. Suicide units concealed in spider holes would meet the troops as they passed nearby. Just past the beaches and the sea walls would be hundreds of barricades, trail blocks and concealed strong points.

In the heat of battle, Japanese special infiltration units would be sent to reap havoc in the American lines by cutting phone and communication lines, and by indiscriminately firing at our troops attempting to establish a beachhead. some of the troops would be in American uniform to confuse our troops and English speaking Japanese officers were assigned to break in on American radio traffic to call off American artillery fire, to order retreats and to further confuse our troops.

Still other infiltrators with demolition charges strapped on their chests or backs would attempt to blow up American tanks, artillery pieces and ammunition stores as they were unloaded ashore.

Beyond the beaches were large artillery pieces situated at key points to bring down a devastating curtain of fire on the avenues of approach along the beach. Some of these large guns were mounted on railroad tracks running in and out of caves where they were protected by concrete and steel.

The battle for Japan, itself, would be won by what General Simon Bolivar Buckner had called on Okinawa "Prairie Dog Warfare." this type of fighting was almost unknown to the ground troops in Europe and the Mediterranean. It was peculiar only to the American soldiers and marines whose responsibility it had been to fight and destroy the Japanese on islands all over the south and central Pacific. "Prairie Dog Warfare" had been the story of Tarawa, of Saipan, of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. "Prairie Dog Warfare" was a battle for yards, feet and sometimes even inches. It was a brutal, deadly and dangerous form of combat aimed at an underground, heavily fortified, non-retreating enemy. "Prairie Dog Warfare" would be what the invasion of Japan was all about.

In the mountains behind the beaches were elaborate underground networks of caves, bunkers, command posts and hospitals connected by miles of tunnels with dozens of separate entrances and exits. Some of these complexes could hold up to 1,000 enemy troops.

A number of these caves were equipped with large steel doors that slid open to allow artillery fire and then would snap shut again.

The paths leading up to these underground fortresses were honeycombed with defensive positions, and all but a few of the trails would be booby-trapped. along these manned defensive positions would be machine gun nests and aircraft and naval guns converted for anti-invasion fire.

In addition to the use of poison gas and bacteriological warfare (which the Japanese had experimented with), the most frightening of all was the prospect of meeting an entire civilian population that had been mobilized to meet our troops on the beaches.

Had "Olympic" come about, the Japanese civilian population inflamed by a national slogan. "One Hundred Million will die for the Emperor and Nation", was prepared to engage and fight the American invaders to the death.

Twenty-eight million Japanese had become a part of the "National Volunteer Combat Force" and had undergone training in the techniques of beach defense and guerrilla warfare. These civilians were armed with ancient rifles, lunge mines, satchel charges, Molotov cocktails and one-shot black powder mortars. Still others were armed with swords, long bows, axes and bamboo spears.

These special civilian units were to be tactically employed in nighttime attacks, hit and run maneuvers, delaying actions and massive suicide charges at the weaker American positions.

Even without the utilization of Japanese civilians in direct combat, the Japanese and American casualties during the campaign for Kyushu would have been staggering. At the early stage of the invasion, 1,000 Japanese and American soldiers would be dying every hour. The long and difficult task of conquering Kyushu would have made casualties on both sides enormous and one can only guess at how monumental the casualty figures would have been had the Americans had to repeat their invasion a second time when they landed at heavily fortified and defended Tokyo Plain the following March.

The invasion of Japan never became a reality because on August 6, 1945, the entire nature of war changed when the first atomic bomb was exploded over Hiroshima. On August 9, 1945, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, and within days the war with Japan was at a close.

Had these bombs not been dropped and had the invasion been launched as scheduled, it is hard not to speculate as to the cost. Thousands of Japanese suicide sailors and airmen would have died in fiery deaths in the defense of their homeland. Thousands of American sailors and airmen defending against these attacks would also have been killed with many more wounded.

On the Japanese home islands, the combat casualties would have been at a minimum in the tens of thousands. Every foot of Japanese soil would have been paid for, twice over, by both Japanese and American lives.

One can only guess at how many civilians would have committed suicide in their homes or in futile mass military attacks.

In retrospect, the one million American men who were to be the casualties of the invasion, were instead lucky enough to survive the war, safe and unharmed.

Intelligence studies and realistic military estimates made over forty years ago, and not latter day speculation, show quite clearly that the battle for Japan might well have resulted in the biggest blood bath in the history of modern warfare.

At best, the invasion of Japan would have resulted in a long and bloody siege. At worst, it could have been a battle of extermination between two different civilizations.

Far worse would be what might have happened to Japan as a nation and as a culture. When the invasion came, it would have come after several additional months of the continued fire-bombings on all of the remaining Japanese cities and population centers. The cost in human life that resulted from the two atomic blasts would be small in comparison to the total number of Japanese lives that would have been lost by this continued aerial devastation.

If the invasion had come in the fall of 1945, with the American forces locked in combat in the south of Japan, who or what could have prevented the Red Army from marching into the northern half of the Japanese home islands. If "Downfall" had been an operational necessity, the existence of a separate North and South Japan might be a modern-day reality. Japan today could be divided down its middle much like Korea and German. The world was spared the cost of "Downfall" however, because on September 2, 1945, Japan formally surrendered to the United Nations and World War II was finally over.

Almost immediately, American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in for the duration were now discharged. The aircraft carriers, cruisers, transport ships and LST's scheduled to carry our invasion troops to Japan, now ferried home American troops in a gigantic troop-lift called "Magic Carpet."

The soldiers and marines who had been committed to invade Japan were now returned home where they were welcomed back to American shores. All over America celebrations were held and families everywhere gathered in thanksgiving to honor these soldiers who had been miraculously spared from further combat and were now safely returning home.

In the fall of 1945, with the war now over, few Americans would ever learn of the elaborate top-secret plans that had been prepared in detail for the invasion of Japan. Those few military leaders who had known the details of "Operation Downfall" were now preoccupied with demobilization and other postwar matters, and were no longer concerned with this invasion that never came.

In the fall of 1945, in the aftermath of the two thermonuclear explosions that triggered the Japanese surrender, and with the war a fading memory, few people concerned themselves with the invasion plans for Japan that had been rendered obsolete by the atomic age. Following the surrender, the classified documents, maps, diagrams and appendices for "Operation Downfall" were packed away in boxes where they began their long circuitous route to the National Archives where they still remain.

But even now more that forty years later, these plans that called for the invasion of Japan paint a vivid description of what might have been one of the most horrible campaigns in the history of modern man. The fact that "Operation downfall", the story of the invasion of Japan, is locked up in our Nations Archives and is not reflected in our history books is something for which all Americans can be thankful.

Post Script

With the capture of Okinawa during the summer of 1945 the Americans in the Pacific had finally obtained what the allies in Europe had enjoyed all along---a large island capable of being used as a launching platform for invasion. Following the cessation of hostilities with German, millions of American soldiers, sailors and airmen were being re-deployed to the Pacific for the anticipated invasion of Japan. The center of this immense military buildup and the primary staging area for the invasion was the island of Okinawa.

American military planners knew that the invasion of Japan would be a difficult military undertaking. Japan had never been successfully invaded in its history.

Six and on-half centuries before, an invasion similar to the planned American invasion had been attempted and failed. That invasion had striking similarities to the one being planned by the Americans that summer of 1945.

In the year 1281 AD two magnificent Chinese fleets set sail for the Empire of Japan. Their purpose was to launch a massive invasion on the Japanese home islands and to conquer Japan in the name of the Great Mongol Emperor, Kublai Khan.

Sailing from China was the main armada, consisting of 3,500 ships and over 100,000 heavily armed troops. Sailing from ports in Korea was a second impressive fleet of 900 ships, containing 42,000 Mongol warriors.

In the summer of that year, the invasion force sailing from Korea arrived off the western shores of the southernmost Japanese island of Kyushu. The Mongols maneuvered their ships into position and methodically launched their assault on the Japanese coast. Like human surf, wave after wave of these oriental soldiers swept ashore at Hagata Bay, where they were met on the beaches by thousands of Japanese defenders who had never had their homeland successfully invaded.

The Mongol invasion force was a modern army, and its arsenal of weapons was far superior to that of the Japanese. Its soldiers were equipped with poisoned arrows, maces, iron swords, metal javelins and even gunpowder. The Japanese were forced to defend themselves with bow and arrows, swords, spears made from bamboo and shields made only of wood.

The battle was fierce with many solders killed or wounded on both sides. It raged on for days, but aided by the fortifications along their beaches of which the Mongols had no advance knowledge; and inspired by the sacred cause of the defense of their homeland, these ancient Japanese warriors pushed the much stronger Mongol invaders off the beaches and back into their ships lying at anchor in the Bay.

This Mongol fleet then set back out to sea, where it rendezvoused with the main body of its army, which was arriving with the second fleet coming from China.

During the summer of 1281, this combined force of foreign invaders maneuvered off shore in preparation for the main assault on the western shores of Kyushu.

All over Japan elaborate Shinto ceremonies were performed at shrines, in the cities, and in the countryside. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese urged on by their Emperor, their warlords, and other officials prayed to their Shinto gods for deliverance from these foreign invaders. A million Japanese voices called upward for divine intervention.

Miraculously, as if in answer to their prayers, from out of the south a savage typhoon sprang up and headed toward Kyushu. Its powerful winds screamed up the coast where they struck the Mongol's invasion fleet with full fury, wreaking havoc on the ships and on the men onboard. The Mongol fleet was devastated. After the typhoon had passed, over 4,000 invasion craft had been lost and the Mongol casualties exceeded 100,000 men.

All over Japan religious services and huge celebrations were held. Everywhere tumultuous crowds gathered in thanksgiving to pay homage to the "divine wind" that had saved their homeland from foreign invasion. At no time thereafter has Japan ever been successfully invaded. The Japanese fervently believed that it was this "divine wind" that would forever protect them.

During the summer of 1945 another powerful armada was being assembled to assault the same western coastline on the island of Kyushu, where six and one-half centuries earlier the Mongols had been repelled.

The American invasion plans for Kyushu, scheduled for November 1, 1945 called for a floating invasion force of 14 army and marine divisions to be transported by ship to hit the western, eastern and southern shoreline of Kyushu. This shipboard invasion forced would consist of 550,000 combat soldiers, tens of thousands of sailors and hundreds of naval aviators.

The assault fleet would consist of thousands of ships of every shape, size and description, ranging from the mammoth battleships and aircraft carriers to the small amphibious craft, and they would be sailing from Okinawa, the Philippines and the Marianas.

Crucial to the success of the invasion were nearly 4,000 army, navy, and marine aircraft that would be packed into the small island of Okinawa to be used for direct air support of our landing forces at the time of this invasion.

By July of 1945, the Japanese knew the Americans were planning to invade their homeland. Throughout the early summer, the Emperor and his government officials exhorted the military and civilian population to make preparations for the invasion.

Japanese radios throughout that summer cried out to the people to "form a wall of human flesh" and when the invasion began, to push the invaders back into the sea, and back onto their ships.

The Japanese people fervently believed that the American invaders would be repelled. They all seemed to share a mystical faith that their country could never be invaded successfully and that they, again, would be saved by the "divine wind".

The American invasion never came, however, because the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as if by a miracle, ended the war.

Almost immediately American soldiers, sailors, and airmen, in for the duration, were being discharged and sent home. By the fall of 1945, there remained approximately 200,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen still on Okinawa. Okinawa, which would have been the major launching platform for the invasion of Japan, was now peaceful.

In October, Buckner Bay, on the east coast of the island, was still jammed with vessels of all kinds---from Victory ships to landing craft. On the island itself, 150,000 soldiers lived under miles of canvas, in what were referred to as "Tent Cities." All over the island, hundreds of tons of food, equipment and supplies stacked in immense piles lay out in the open.

During the early part of October, to the southwest of Okinawa just northeast of the Marianas, the seas were growing restless and the winds began to blow. The ocean skies slowly turned black and the large swells that were developing began to turn the Pacific Ocean white with froth. In a matter of only a few days, a gigantic typhoon had somehow, out of season, sprung to life and began sweeping past Saipan and into the Philippine Sea. As the storm grew more violent, it raced northward and kicked up waves 60 feet high.

Navy Meteorologists eventually became aware of the storm, but they expected it to pass well between Formosa and Okinawa, and to disappear into the East China Sea.

Unexplainable, on the evening of October 8th, the storm changed direction and abruptly veered to the east. When it did so, there was insufficient warning to allow the ships in the harbor to get under way in order to escape the typhoon's terrible violence. By late morning on the 9th, rain was coming down in torrents, the seas were rising and visibility was zero. Winds, now over 80 miles per hour blowing from the east and northeast, caused small crafts in Buckner Bay to drag their anchors.

By early afternoon, the wind had risen to over 100 miles per hour, the rain coming in horizontally now was more salt than fresh, and even the larger vessels began dragging anchor under the pounding of 50 foot seas.

As the winds continued to increase and the storm unleashed its fury, the entire Bay became a scene of devastation. Ships dragging their anchors collided with one another; hundreds of vessels were blown ashore. Vessels in groups of two's and three's were washed ashore into masses of wreckage that began to accumulate on the beaches.

Numerous ships had to be abandoned, while their crews were precariously transferred between ships.

By mid-afternoon, the typhoon had reached its raging peak with winds, now coming from the north and the northeast, blowing up to 150 miles per hour. Ships initially grounded by the storm were now blown off the reefs and back across the bay to the south shore, dragging their anchors the entire way. More collisions occurred between wind-blown ships and shattered hulks.

Gigantic waves swamped small vessels and engulfed larger ones. Liberty ships lost their propellers, while men in transports, destroyers and Victory ships were swept off the decks by 60 foot waves that reached the tops of the masts of their vessels.

On shore, the typhoon was devastating the island. Twenty hours of torrential rain washed out roads and ruined the island's stores of rations and supplies. Aircraft was picked up and catapulted off the airfields; huge Quonset huts were sailing into the air, metal hangars were ripped to shreds and the "Tent Cities", housing 150,000 troops on the island, ceased to exist.

Almost the entire food supply on the island was blown away. Americans on the island had nowhere to go, but into the caves, trenches and ditches of the island in order to survive. All over the island there were tents, boards and sections of galvanized iron being hurled through the air at over 100 mph.

The storm raged over the island for hours, and then slowly headed out to sea; then it doubled back, and two days later howled in from the ocean to hit the island again. On the following day, when the typhoon had finally past, dazed men crawled out of holes and caves to count the losses.

Countless aircraft had been destroyed, all power was gone, communications and supplies were nonexistent. B-29's were requisitioned to rush in tons of rations and supplies from the Marianas. General Joseph Stillwell, the 10th Army Commander, asked for immediate plans to evacuate all hospital cases from the island. The harbor facilities were useless.

After the typhoon roared out into the Sea of Japan and started to die its slow death, the bodies began to wash ashore. The toll on ships was staggering. Almost 270 ships were sunk, grounded or damaged beyond repair. Fifty-Three ships in too bad a state to be restored to duty were decommissioned, stripped and abandoned. Out of 90 ships which needed major repair, the Navy decided only 10 were even worthy of complete salvage, and so the remaining 80 were scrapped.

According to Samuel Eliot Morrison, the famous Naval historian, "Typhoon Louise" was the most furious and lethal storm ever encountered by the United States Navy in its entire history. Hundreds of Americans were killed, injured and missing, ships were sunk and the island of Okinawa was in havoc.

News accounts at the time disclose that the press and the public back home paid little attention to this storm that struck the Pacific with such force. The very existence of this storm is still a little-known fact.

Surprisingly, few people then, or even now, have made the connection that an American invasion fleet of thousands of ships, planes and landing craft, and a half million men might well have been in that exact place at that exact time, poised to strike Japan, when this typhoon enveloped Okinawa and its surrounding seas.

In the aftermath of this storm, with the war now history, few people concerned themselves with the obsolete invasion plans for Japan.

However, had there been no bomb dropped or had it been simply delayed for only a matter of months, history might well have repeated itself. In the fall of 1945, in the aftermath of this typhoon, had things been different, all over Japan religious services and huge celebrations would have been held. A million Japanese voices would have been raised upward in thanksgiving. Everywhere tumultuous crowds would have gathered in delirious gratitude to pay homage to a "divine wind" which might have once again protected their country from foreign invaders, a "divine wind" they had names, centuries before, the "Kamikaze."