After Escaping Cannibals, Dealing With Politicians Was Easy

In September 1944 nine US airmen were shot down over Chichi Jima, a small island 700 miles south of Tokyo, Japan. Of these nine men, only one evaded capture by the Japanese. That man, Lt. George H.W. Bush, went on to become the 41st President is the United States. What he didn't know -- and... Continue Reading →

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The Cavalry Charges Into History

Few military maneuvers instill as many thoughts of heroism and daring as the cavalry charge. Rushing at full speed against an onslaught of enemy forces has inspired such poetic works Alfred, Lord Tennyson's as "The Charge of the Light Brigade," and have launched political careers, as did the Battle of San Juan Hill for U.S.... Continue Reading →

Did One Wrong Word Cause the Hiroshima Bombing?

Readers of Commonplace will not be surprised to learn that one little mistranslation from one language to another can be embarrassing. Whether it is one misplaced letter when cheering General Douglas MacArthur, an incompetent interpreter for a US President, or slip of a tongue during an word of encouragement from a member of the royal family, one... Continue Reading →

Did Dr. Doom Help Design the Atomic Bomb?

Readers of Marvel Comics know that the nefarious Dr. Doom will go to any lengths in his power-hungry desire to conquer the world. It is worth taking a second look, therefore, to see if this master of villainy's fingerprints were on the design of the most destructive weapon in history -- especially since one of... Continue Reading →

James Doohan — A Hero in the 20th Century as Well as the 23rd

Actor James Doohan (1920-2005) is mostly known for the 23rd century exploits of his character Montgomery "Scotty" Scott in Star Trek. Less widely known are his heroics in the 20th century -- most specifically during World War II. Commissioned a lieutenant in the 14th Field Artillery Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, Doohan saw his first combat at Juno... Continue Reading →

The Devil is in the Details

General Dwight D. Eisenhower was unquestionably experienced when it came to military matters, but in 1952 he was a novice concerning politics. In the midst of his first campaign for the presidency, one of the advance men handed him a 35-page detailed plan concerning the campaign stops for the next couple of days. Eisenhower looked at... Continue Reading →

Lucille Ball: Mistress of Comedy and Counter-Espionage

Lucille Ball (1911-1989) was not only one of the undisputed geniuses of comedy, starring in I Love Lucy, Life With Lucy, and more than 80 motion pictures, but she also played an unplanned and unscripted role in counter-espionage. In 1942 Lucy was driving home from MGM, where she was filming Du Barry Was a Lady... Continue Reading →

The Last of Those Who Gave The Last Full Measure of Their Devotion

While records are sometimes sketchy and inconclusive, the following is a list of the last surviving veterans of the United States' wars and major military operations.   War of Independence -- John Gray (Jan. 6, 1764 - March 29, 1868) John Gray joined in the fight for American independence in 1780 at the age of... Continue Reading →

Truman and the Two Generals

Any study of the Korean War would be incomplete without looking into the conflict between President Harry Truman and General Douglas MacArthur. Truman's firing of MacArthur was a pivotal event in American history, and it almost certainly drove a nail in the coffin of any possible plans of President Truman to seek a third term... Continue Reading →

You’ve Heard of Flying Reindeer; What About Pollyanna, the Reindeer of the Deep Seas?

The British submarine HMS Trident had an unusual crew member for part of its World War II service: a reindeer named Pollyanna. The Trident was among a fleet of submarines and supply ships that the British Navy sent to support the Soviet Union after the Nazis invaded in June 1941. The Trident was based at... Continue Reading →

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