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Military trivia

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Major General Henry Shrapnel (3 June 1761 – 13 March 1842) was a British Army officer and inventor, most famously, of the "shrapnel shell".
Henry Shrapnel was born at Midway Manor in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, England.
In 1784, while a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, he perfected, with his own resources, an invention of what he called "spherical case" ammunition: a hollow cannon ball filled with lead shot that burst in mid-air.[1] He intended the device as an anti-personnel weapon. In 1803, the British Army adopted a similar but elongated explosive shell which immediately acquired the inventor's name: the shrapnel shell.[2] It has lent the term "shrapnel" to fragmentation from artillery shells and fragmentation in general ever since, long after it was replaced by high explosive rounds.
Shrapnel served in Flanders, where he was wounded in 1793. He was promoted to major on 1 November 1803 after eight years as a captain. After his invention's success in battle at Fort New Amsterdam on 30 April 1804,[3] Shrapnel was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 20 July 1804, less than nine months later.
In 1814, the British Government recognized Shrapnel's contribution by awarding him £1200 (UK£ 66,000 in 2013)[4] a year for life. He was appointed to the office of Colonel-Commandant, Royal Artillery, on 6 March 1827. He rose to the rank of lieutenant-general on 10 January 1837.
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The Minié ball, or Minie ball, is a type of muzzle-loading spin-stabilized rifle bullet named after its co-developer, Claude-Étienne Minié, inventor of the Minié rifle. It came to prominence in the Crimean War and American Civil War.

The Minié ball was a conical-cylindrical soft lead bullet, slightly smaller than the intended firearm barrel's bore, with (originally) four exterior grease-filled grooves and a conical hollow in its base. The bullet was designed by Minié with a small iron plug and a lead skirting. Its intended purpose was to expand under the pressure and obturate the barrel and increase muzzle velocity.

The precursor to the Minié ball was created in 1848 by the French Army captains Montgomery and Henri-Gustave Delvigne. Their design was made to allow rapid muzzle loading of rifles, an innovation that brought about the widespread use of the rifle as a mass battlefield weapon. Delvigne had invented a ball that could expand upon ramming to fit the grooves of a rifle in 1826.[1] The design of the ball had been proposed in 1832 as the cylindro-conoidal bullet by Captain John Norton,[2] but had not been adopted.

The bullet could be quickly removed from the paper cartridge with the gunpowder poured down the barrel and the bullet pressed past the muzzle rifling and any detritus from prior shots. It was then rammed home with the ramrod, which ensured that the charge was packed and the hollow base was filled with powder. When fired, the expanding gas pushed forcibly on the base of the bullet, deforming it to engage the rifling. This provided spin for accuracy, a better seal for consistent velocity and longer range, and cleaning of barrel detritus.
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George Smith Patton, Jr. (11 November 1885 – 21 December 1945) was a general in the United States Army best known for his command of the Seventh United States Army, and later the Third United States Army, in the European Theater of World War II.

Born in 1885 to a privileged family with an extensive military background, Patton attended the Virginia Military Institute, and later the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He participated in the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and was instrumental in designing the M1913 "Patton Saber". Patton first saw combat during the Pancho Villa Expedition in one of the earliest instances of mechanized combat. He later joined the newly formed United States Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Force and saw action in World War I, first commanding the U.S. tank school in France before being wounded near the end of the war. In the interwar period, Patton remained a central figure in the development of armored warfare doctrine in the U.S. Army, serving on numerous staff positions throughout the country. Rising through the ranks, he commanded the U.S. 2nd Armored Division at the time of the U.S. entry into World War II.

Patton led U.S. troops into the Mediterranean theater with an invasion of Casablanca during the North African Campaign in 1942, where he later established himself as an effective commander through his rapid rehabilitation of the demoralized U.S. II Corps. He commanded the Seventh Army during the Invasion of Sicily, where he beat British General Bernard Law Montgomery to Messina but was embroiled in controversy after he slapped two soldiers under his command. Patton returned to command the Third Army following the Invasion of Normandy in 1944, where he led a highly successful, rapid drive across France. He led the relief of beleaguered U.S. troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, and advanced his army into Nazi Germany by the end of the war. Patton was the military governor of Bavaria after the end of the war before being relieved of this post, then he commanded the Fifteenth United States Army for a time. He died following an automobile accident in Europe on 21 December 1945.

Patton's colorful image, hard-driving personality and success as a commander were at times overshadowed by his politically inept statements in the press. But his philosophy of leading from the front and his ability to inspire his troops with vulgarity-ridden speeches, such as a famous address to the Third Army, led to new leadership philosophies in the U.S. officer corps. His strong emphasis on rapid and aggressive offensive action led to new strategies in combined arms warfare. While Allied leaders held differing opinions on Patton, he was regarded highly by his opponents in the German High Command. A popular, award-winning biographical film released in 1970 helped transform Patton into an American folk hero.

Patton's first posting was with the 15th Cavalry at Fort Sheridan, Illinois,[18] where he established himself as a hard-driving leader who impressed superiors with his dedication.[19] In late 1911, Patton and his family transferred to Fort Myer, Virginia, where many of the Army's senior leaders were stationed. Befriending Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Patton served as Stimson's aide at social functions on top of his regular duties as quartermaster for his troop.[8]
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Omar Nelson Bradley (February 12, 1893 – April 8, 1981) was a senior U.S. Army field commander in North Africa and Europe during World War II, and a General of the Army in the United States Army. From the Normandy landings through the end of the war in Europe, Bradley had command of all U.S. ground forces invading Germany from the west; he ultimately commanded forty-three divisions and 1.3 million men, the largest body of American soldiers ever to serve under a U.S. field commander. After the war, Bradley headed the Veterans Administration and became Chief of Staff of the United States Army. In 1949, he was appointed the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the following year oversaw the policy-making for the Korean War, before retiring from active service in 1953.

General Bradley was the last of only nine people to hold five-star rank in the United States Armed Forces.

At West Point, Bradley's graduating class had ultimately 59 generals, with Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower attaining the rank of General of the Army.

Bradley was commissioned into the infantry and was first assigned to the 14th Infantry Regiment. He served on the U.S.-Mexico border in 1915. When war was declared, he was promoted to captain and sent to guard the Butte, Montana copper mines.

Bradley joined the 19th Infantry Division in August 1918, which was scheduled for European deployment, but the influenza pandemic and the armistice prevented it.

Between the wars, he taught and studied. From 1920–24, he taught mathematics at West Point. He was promoted to major in 1924 and took the advanced infantry course at Fort Benning, Georgia. After brief duty in Hawaii, he studied at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth in 1928–29. Upon graduating from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he served as an instructor in tactics at the Infantry School. There the assistant commandant, Lieutenant Colonel George C. Marshall called him "quiet, unassuming, capable, with sound common sense. Absolute dependability. Give him a job and forget it."[2] From 1929, he taught at West Point again, taking a break to study at the Army War College in 1934. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1936 and worked at the War Department; after 1938 he was directly under Army Chief of Staff George Marshall. In February 1941, he was promoted to (wartime) temporary rank of brigadier general (bypassing the rank of colonel)[3] (this rank was made permanent in September, 1943). The temporary rank was conferred to allow him to command Fort Benning (he was the first from his class to become even a temporary general officer). In February 1942, he was made a temporary major general (a rank made permanent in September 1944) and took command of the 82nd Infantry Division before being switched to the 28th Infantry Division in June.

Bradley did not receive a front-line command until early 1943, after Operation Torch. He had been given VIII Corps, but instead was sent to North Africa to be Eisenhower's front-line troubleshooter. At Bradley's suggestion, II Corps, which had just suffered the devastating loss at the Kasserine Pass, was overhauled from top to bottom, and Eisenhower installed George S. Patton as corps commander. Patton requested Bradley as his deputy, but Bradley retained the right to represent Eisenhower as well.[4]

For the front-line command, Bradley was promoted to temporary lieutenant general in March 1943 and succeeded Patton as head of II Corps in April, directed it in the final Tunisian battles of April and May. Bradley continued to command the Second Corps in the invasion of Sicily.

Bradley moved to London as commander in chief of the American ground forces preparing to invade France in 1944. For D-Day, Bradley was chosen to command the US First Army, which alongside the British Second Army made up General Montgomery's 21st Army Group.

On June 10, General Bradley and his staff debarked to establish a headquarters ashore. During Operation Overlord, he commanded three corps directed at the two American invasion targets, Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. Later in July, he planned Operation Cobra, the beginning of the breakout from the Normandy beachhead. Operation Cobra called for the use of strategic bombers using huge bomb loads to attack German defensive lines. After several postponements due to weather, the operation began on July 25, 1944 with a short, very intensive bombardment with lighter explosives, designed so as not to create greater rubble and craters that would slow Allied progress. Bradley was horrified when 77 planes bombed short and dropped bombs on their own troops, including general Lesley J. McNair:[5]

"The ground belched, shook and spewed dirt to the sky. Scores of our troops were hit, their bodies flung from slit trenches. Doughboys were dazed and frightened....A bomb landed squarely on McNair in a slit trench and threw his body sixty feet and mangled it beyond recognition except for the three stars on his collar."[6]

As the build-up continued in Normandy, the 3rd Army was formed under Patton, Bradley's former commander, while General Hodges succeeded Bradley in command of the 1st Army; together, they made up Bradley's new command, the 12th Army Group. It was the largest group of American soldiers to ever serve under one field commander.
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The Slinky – a cylindrical wire spring that was a popular toy in the 1950s and 1960s – was also popular with US military personnel in Vietnam. The Slinky made an excellent antenna for mobile radios.

One of the anti-war movement’s most controversial moments was the 1972 visit to North Vietnam by actress Jane Fonda. While in Hanoi, Fonda was photographed sitting on an NVA anti-aircraft gun, an incident that generated outrage in the US and earned her the nickname ‘Hanoi Jane’.

More than 60 per cent of Americans killed in the Vietnam War were under 21 years of age, which means they were not eligible to vote in most American states.

Five Americans to die in Vietnam were 16 years or younger. The youngest was Prive First-Class Dan Bullock, an African-American from North Carolina who enlisted in 1968 with a falsified birth certificate. Bullock was killed three weeks after arriving in Vietnam; he was 15 years old.

US soldier Steven Hutchison completed two tours of duty in Vietnam with the 101th Airborne Division, winning a Bronze Star. Hutchison re-entered the army in 2006 and became a major. In 2009, 60-year-old Hutchison became the oldest US soldier to be killed in action in Iraq.

According to the Vietnamese government, there have been more than 42,000 deaths from land mines since the war ended in 1975. An estimated 16 million acres is still contaminated by mines and other unexploded ordnance.
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15 Military Trivia facts:

1. 30 of the 43 Presidents served in the Army, 24 during time of war, two earned the rank of 5-star General (Washington and Eisenhower) and one earned the Medal of Honor (T. Roosevelt)

2. Less than 28 percent of Americans between the ages of 17-23 are qualified for military service, that’s only about 1-in-4.

3. The U.S. Air Force was part of the Army until 1946. It was called the Army Air Corp.

4. Only one President (James Buchanan) served as an enlisted man in the military and did not go on to become an officer.

5. The Department of Defense employs about 1.8 million people on active duty. It is the largest employer in the United States, with more employees than Exxon, Mobil, Ford, General Motors, and GE combined!

6. The Department of Defense owns 29,819,492 acres of land worldwide.

7. The United States has 737 military installations overseas alone.

8. The Navy’s bell-bottom trousers are commonly believed to have been introduced in 1817 to permit men to roll them above the knee when washing down the decks and to make it easier to remove them in a hurry when forced to abandon ship or when washed overboard. In addition the trousers may be used as a life preserver by knotting the legs and swinging them over your head to fill the legs with air.

9. The Coast Guard seizes 169 pounds of marijuana and 306 pounds of cocaine worth $9,589,000.00 everyday.

10. The Coast Guard is smaller than the New York City Police Department.

11. The Marine Corps motto, "Semper Fidelis,” was adopted in 1883 as the official motto. It is Latin for Always Faithful.

12. The nickname “Leatherneck” originates from the stiff leather stock that early Marines wore around their necks, probably to protect their jugular vein against saber blows.

13. The English Bulldog, also known as "Teufel-hunden,” or "Devil Dogs,” is the unofficial mascot that symbolize the ethos of the Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines. The U.S. Marine Corps earned this unofficial mascot during World War I, when many German reports called the attacking Marines "teufel-hunden," meaning Devil-Dogs. “Teufel-hunden” were the vicious, wild and ferocious mountain dogs of German Bavarian folklore.

14. The U.S. Army was in charge of exploring and mapping America. The Lewis and Clark Expedition was an all Army affair. Army officers were the first Americans to see such landmarks as Pike's Peak and the Grand Canyon.

15. The Air Force's F-117 fighter uses aerodynamics discovered during research into how bumblebees fly.
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Trivia Questions & Answers:

Q: Before the U.S. Navy adopted the standard 21-gun salute in 1841, how many blasts did its warships fie when they sailed into foreign ports ?

A: One for each state in the union.

Q: Who were Michael Strank, Harlon H. Block, Franklin R. Sousley, Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon and John H. Bradley, and how have they been memorialized ?

A: They were the six servicemen who raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima during World War II-- and who are memorialized in the dramatic 78-foot-high Iwo Jima Monument in Arlington, Virginia.

Q: In the military world, what is EGADS ?

A: The signal used when it's necessary to destroy a missile in flight. EGADS is an acronym for Electronic Ground Automatic Destruct System.

Q: What actor has attained the highest U.S. military rank in history for an entertainer ?

A: James Stewart, who rose to the rank of a brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

Q: What did the Marquis de Lafayette, America's Revolutionary War ally, name his only son ?

A: George Washington Lafayette.

Q: Why was actor Paul Newman disqualified from the Navy's pilot-training program during World War II ?

A: Newman's dazzling blue eyes were colorblind.

Q: Who was the first American congressman to don a uniform following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 ?

A: President-to-be Lyndon Johnson, who served in the Navy.

Q: What military firsts were achieved by Benjamin O. Davis Sr. and Benjamin O. Davis Jr. ?

A: In 1940, Davis Sr. became the first black general in U.S. Army history; in 1954, his son Davis Jr. became the first black general in U.S. Air Force history.

Q: What rank did Russian czar Peter the Great give himself in the Russian Army ?

A: None. He served as a common soldier in the artillery.

Q: You may remember the Alamo, but do you know what the word means in Spanish ?

A: Cottonwood.
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D-Day & H-Hour

What does the "D" signify in D-Day, and the "H" signify in H-Hour?

The terms D-day and H-hour are used for the day and hour on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. They designate the day and hour of the operation when the day and hour have not yet been determined, or where secrecy is essential. The letters are derived from the words for which they stand, "D" for the day of the invasion and "H" for the hour operations actually begin. There is but one D-day and one H-hour for all units participating in a given operation. It is unnecessary to state that H-hour is on D-day.

When used in combination with figures and plus or minus signs, these terms indicate the length of time preceding or following a specific action. Thus, H-3 means 3 hours before H-hour, and D+3 means 3 days after D-day. H+75 minutes means H-hour plus 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Planning papers for large-scale operations are made up in detail long before specific dates are set. Thus, orders are issued for the various steps to be carried out on the D-day or H-hour minus or plus a certain number or days, hours, or minutes. At the appropriate time, a subsequent order is issued that states the actual day and times.

The earliest use of these terms by the U.S. Army that the Center of Military History has been able to find was during World War I. In Field Order Number 9, First Army, American Expeditionary Forces, dated September 7, 1918: "The First Army will attack at H hour on D day with the object of forcing the evacuation of the St. Mihiel Salient."

D-day for the invasion of Normandy was set for June 6, 1944, and that date has been popularly referred to by the short title "D-day."

Source: The General Service Schools, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Combat Orders (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: The General Service Schools Press, 1922).
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