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When Apollo 10 Nearly Crashed Into the Moon

May 21, 2019 in History

By Amy Shira Teitel

Apollo 10 marked NASA’s last step before going for Apollo 11′s full lunar landing. But the practice run came close to failure.

On May 22, 1969, almost four days and six hours after leaving the Earth, the crew of Apollo 10 was enjoying a delightfully uneventful mission. Rather, it was as uneventful as a mission to the moon could be.

Commander Tom Stafford and Lunar Module Pilot Gene Cernan had just returned from their close pass by the lunar surface and were readying to go through the staging maneuver that would bring them into the correct lunar orbit to rejoin Command Module Pilot John Young waiting in the Command-Service module. On schedule, the LM’s ascent engine fired.

Then all hell broke loose.

The crew saw the lunar horizon swivel past their window half a dozen times as Cernan yelled out “Son of a bitch!” Apollo 10’s lunar module, with two astronauts on board, was careening out of control a quarter of a million miles from home.

A view of the Moon’s surface photographed by the Apollo 10 astronauts in May of 1969.

Apollo 10 Was a Full Dress Rehearsal for Apollo 11

Apollo 10 marked NASA’s last step before going for the full lunar landing with Apollo 11. To that point, the space agency’s approach to landing on the moon had been incremental. Apollo 7 had tested the command-service module (CSM) in Earth orbit in October of 1968. Two months later, Apollo 8 had taken that same spacecraft for a test flight to the moon, ensuring it would be able enter and leave lunar orbit without any problems. In March of 1969, Apollo 9 was the first to take the full Apollo stack for a test drive, flying both the CSM and the lunar module (LM) on a simulated lunar landing mission in the relative safety of Earth orbit.

READ MORE: How Landing the First Man on the Moon Cost Dozens of Lives

Apollo 10’s mission plan was in effect a full dress rehearsal of a lunar landing that would stop just short of the surface. This would give NASA a final check that the CSM and LM could fly properly in lunar orbit. The lunar lander, later nicknamed Snoopy, would descend almost to the moon’s surface and then reascend and re-dock with the command module.

There was some concerns that the irregular gravitational environment around the moon from …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Are UFOs a Threat to National Security? This Ex-U.S. Official Thinks They Warrant Investigation

May 21, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

Throughout his distinguished government career, Chris Mellon has been keenly focused on the prospect of unconventional national threats. Now he works with a civilian group called To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science, trying to prod the U.S. defense and intelligence communities to investigate reports of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs—also known as UFOs) that maneuver in ways that have no known precedent.

He’s inspired, he says, by the growing number of such sightings in sensitive military contexts—reported by highly trained, highly credible witnesses and corroborated by some of the world’s most sophisticated technology, including several infrared videos shot from fighter jets. He doesn’t claim to know what these unusual crafts might be, nor does he assume they bring “aliens” from afar. To him, they signal a potential high-level strategic threat of unknown origin—one the nation would be foolish to ignore.

Chris Mellon (left) and Luis Elizondo of To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science.

Mellon is uniquely qualified to assess such threats. Having served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, and later as Minority Staff Director of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he was heavily responsible for reviewing agencies and budgets involved in top-secret “black programs” related to things such as special operations and nuclear weapons. Mellon is now an integral part of the investigative team featured on HISTORY’s “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation.” We talked to him about what’s happening—and what he thinks should be done.

Why raise the alarm now about UFOs/AAVs?

What is really motivating me right now, what really has accelerated and solidified my interest, is the [2004] USS Nimitz case—when I learned of that and began to talk to the military personnel involved. We had multiple naval aviators [reporting] what they saw [wingless UFOs, with extraordinary capabilities] in broad daylight, over an extended period of time. It was corroborated by the most sophisticated air-defense sensor systems on earth, and on multiple platforms operated by multiple independent individuals. So when you start talking about that level of evidence, I think any reasonable person would have to say—this is real, and we should proceed accordingly.

READ MORE: When Top Gun Pilots Tangled with a Baffling Tic-Tac-Shaped UFO

USS Nimitz ‘Tic Tac’ UFO: Declassified Video (TV-PG; 2:45)

Which means what? Intelligence gathering? Risk assessment?

From a national security standpoint of course, you’re paid to be paranoid, to …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Ship carrying 937 Jewish refugees, fleeing Nazi Germany, is turned away in Cuba

May 21, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

A boat carrying 937 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution is turned away from Havana, Cuba, on this day in 1939. Only 28 immigrants are admitted into the country. After appeals to the Unites States and Canada for entry are denied, the rest are forced to sail back to Europe, where they’re distributed among several countries including Great Britain and France.

On May 13, the S.S. St. Louis sailed from Hamburg, Germany to Havana, Cuba. Most of the passengers—many of them children—were German Jews escaping increasing persecution under the Third Reich. Six months earlier, 91 people were killed and Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues were destroyed in what became known as the Kristallnacht pogrom. It was becoming increasing clear the Nazis were accelerating their efforts to exterminate Jews by arresting them and placing them in concentration camps. World War II and the formal implementation of The Final Solution were just months from beginning.

The refugees had applied for U.S. visas, and planned to stay in Cuba until they could enter the United States legally. Even before they set sail, their impending arrival was greeted with hostility in Cuba. On May 8, there was a massive anti-Semitic demonstration in Havana. Right-wing newspapers claimed that the incoming immigrants were Communists.

The St. Louis arrived in Havana on May 27. Roughly 28 people onboard had valid visas or travel documents and were allowed to disembark. The Cuban government refused to admit the nearly 900 others. For seven days, the ship’s captain attempted to negotiate with Cuban officials, but they refused to comply.

The ship sailed closer to Florida, hoping to disembark there, but it was not permitted to dock. Some passengers attempted to cable President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for refuge, but he never responded. A State Department telegram stated that the asylum-seekers must “await their turns on the waiting list and qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States.”

As a last resort, the St. Louis continued north to Canada, but it was rejected there, too. “No country could open its doors wide enough to take in the hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who want to leave Europe: the line must be drawn somewhere,” Frederick Blair, Canada’s director of immigration, said at the time.

Faced with no other options, the ship returned to Europe. It docked in …read more

Source: HISTORY

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How 9/11 Became the Deadliest Day in History for U.S. Firefighters

May 20, 2019 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

Though they surmised that the twin towers had suffered structural damage, firefighters rushed into the unknown to try and save civilians. As an FDNY division chief later said, “We had to try to rescue them.”

At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Six minutes later, the first contingent of New York City firefighters—two ladder and two engine companies—had arrived at the stricken building. They had just begun to climb a stairwell in an effort to reach people trapped on the upper floors, when another hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 175, struck the south tower at 9:03 a.m.

The 9/11 attacks not only became the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history, they were also the deadliest incident ever for firefighters, as well as for law enforcement officers in the United States. The New York City Fire Department lost 343 among their ranks, while 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority officers lost their lives, according to the 9/11 Commission that investigated the attacks and emergency response.

Civilians bolt in the opposite direction as firefighters rush towards the Twin Towers of the New York City’s World Trade Center after a plane hit the building on September 11, 2001.

View the 9 images of this gallery on the original article

“We had a very strong sense we would lose firefighters and that we were in deep trouble, FDNY Division Chief for Lower Manhattan Peter Hayden later told the commission. “But we had estimates of 25,000 to 50,000 civilians, and we had to try to rescue them.”

READ MORE: 9/11 Timeline

On the ground, fire department officials quickly realized that there was no hope of controlling the blaze. Instead, they focused on the desperate mission of evacuating the office workers who were inside the two massive buildings. Though they surmised that the twin towers had suffered structural damage and the fire-suppression systems might have been rendered inoperable, they had almost no solid information about the situation inside. So the firefighters rushed into the unknown.

But probably no one realized just how bad it would be. Among the 2,753 people killed at the World Trade Center site on 9/11, 343 were FDNY fatalities. That somber figure far surpasses the 78 lives lost in the next …read more

Source: HISTORY

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These 5 UFO Traits, Seen by Navy Fighters, Defy Explanation

May 20, 2019 in History

By Missy Sullivan & Greg Daugherty

Called the ‘five observables’ by a former Pentagon UFO investigator, they include hypersonic speed and the ability to fly without wings.

You know a UFO has earned its “unidentified” status when cockpit transcripts from elite Navy fighter jets include this frantic pilot exclamation: “Holy s___, what is that?”

When Luis Elizondo ran a small team at the U.S. Department of Defense investigating military-based reports of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), he heard numerous such accounts—by some of the most highly trained aeronautic experts in the military. They describe objects that appeared to be intelligently controlled, possessing aerodynamic capabilities that far surpass any currently known aircraft technology.

Now pursuing his investigations as part of To the Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, Elizondo is an integral part of the investigative team featured on HISTORY’s “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation,” where they have continued to gather eyewitness accounts:

USS Nimitz ‘Tic Tac’ UFO: Declassified Video (TV-PG; 2:45)

“It’s white. It has no wings. It has no rotors.”

“It didn’t fly like an aircraft. It was so unpredictable—high g, rapid velocity, rapid acceleration.”

“I didn’t see a trail.”

“It was going 70-plus knots underwater.”

Those reports—from Navy fighter pilots, radar operators and other witnesses from the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group incident from November 2004—were among a handful of shocking encounters the Unidentified team explored. When Elizondo ran the Defense Department initiative, called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or AATIP, he compiled a list of extraordinary, logic-defying capabilities most commonly associated with unidentified aerial phenomena sightings. He calls those traits the “five observables”:

READ MORE: When Top Gun Pilots Tangled with a Tic-Tac-Shaped UFO

1) Anti-gravity lift. Unlike any known aircraft, these objects have been sighted overcoming the earth’s gravity with no visible means of propulsion. They also lack any flight surfaces, such as wings. In the Nimitz incident, witnesses describe the crafts as tubular, shaped like a Tic Tac candy.

2) Sudden and instantaneous acceleration. The objects may accelerate or change direction so quickly that no human pilot could survive the g-forces—they would be crushed. In the Nimitz incident, radar operators say they tracked one of the UFOs as it dropped from the sky at more than 30 times the speed of sound. Black Aces squadron commander David Fravor, the Nimitz-based fighter pilot who was sent to intercept one of the objects, likened its rapid side-to-side movements, later captured on infrared video, to …read more

Source: HISTORY

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How a Sentimental Yiddish Song Became a Worldwide Hit—and a Nazi Target

May 17, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Sophie Tucker was best known for her sexy songs—crowd-pleasers that showed off her curves, her sass, and her frank love of men and money. But when the singer took to the stage in 1925, something else was on her mind: her mother.

That night, Tucker debuted a new song. Instead of singing about dating or success, it was about a successful person mourning her departed Jewish mother—an angelic “yiddishe momme” who had suffered in life, but was now dead. Performed in both English and Yiddish, the song was a hit. When Tucker finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. And though she felt a deep personal connection to the song, she had no idea she had just performed an anthem.

“My Yiddishe Momme” would become one of Tucker’s signature songs. Performed in both Yiddish and English, the song took the world by storm during the 1920s and 1930s, giving voice to many immigrants’ complicated feelings about assimilation and the sorrow of losing a mother. But the song was more than a tearjerker, or an American phenomenon. “My Yiddishe Momme” would go on to play an unexpected role in Nazi Germany and even the Holocaust.

The song hit a nerve with Jewish and non-Jewish audiences alike, writes biographer Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff. “The singer was steadfast in her explanation that the song was meant for all listeners,” she notes. But it expressed a bittersweet emotion that would have rung true to audiences of immigrant and second-generation Jews who were far from home and whose mothers had sacrificed to make their lives better.

My yiddishe momme I need her more then ever now
My yiddishe momme I’d like to kiss that wrinkled brow
I long to hold her hands once more as in days gone by
And ask her to forgive me for things I did that made her cry

A large group of Jewish immigrants sitting down to dinner in a converted hangar at Atlantic Park, Southampton serving as a hostel for immigrants en route to the U.S. from eastern Europe.

The song was written by lyricist Jack Yellen and composer Lew Pollack. Yellen is best known for writing upbeat hits like “Ain’t She Sweet” and “Happy Days Are Here Again.” He had something in common with Sophie Tucker: Both were Jews who emigrated to the United States as children in the late 19th century, and both …read more

Source: HISTORY

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When Top Gun Pilots Tangled With a Baffling Tic-Tac-Shaped UFO

May 16, 2019 in History

By Greg Daugherty

Fighter pilots and radar operators from the USS Nimitz describe their terrifying—and still inexplicable—2004 encounter.

It began as a routine naval training exercise. But it would soon become one of the best-documented—and most baffling—UFO sightings of the 21st century.

Witnesses included highly trained military personnel—including several deeply experienced radar operators and fighter pilots—who at the time of the sightings were at the controls of arguably the most advanced flight technology ever created. And yet none can explain what they saw.

The date was November 14, 2004, and the location was the Pacific Ocean, about 100 miles southwest of San Diego, California. The USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, which included the nuclear-powered carrier and the missile cruiser USS Princeton, were conducting a series of drills prior to deployment in the Persian Gulf.

At about 2 p.m., two F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jets from the Nimitz received an unusual order from an operations officer aboard the Princeton. Already airborne, the pilots were told to stop their training maneuvers and proceed to new coordinates for a “real-world” task.

More ominously, the officer asked if they were carrying live weapons. They replied that they were not.

READ MORE: Interactive Map: UFO Sightings Taken Seriously by the U.S. Government.

An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter above the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, 2013.

A puzzling presence at 80,000 feet

The Princeton’s highly advanced radar had been picking up mysterious objects for several days by then. The Navy called them “anomalous aerial vehicles,” or AAVs—a term the military preferred to unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, which had been tainted by its association with flying saucers, little green men and countless crackpots.

According to Kevin Day, the Princeton’s senior radar operator at the time, his screen showed well over 100 AAVs over the course of the week. “Watching them on the display was like watching snow fall from the sky,” he says in his first-ever on-camera interview, for HISTORY’s “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation.”

According to Day, the AAVs appeared at an altitude greater than 80,000 feet, far higher than commercial or military jets typically fly. Initially, the Princeton’s radar team didn’t believe what they were seeing, chalking up the anomalies to an equipment malfunction. But after they determined that everything was operating as it should and they began detecting instances in which the AAVs dropped with astounding speed to lower, busier airspace, Day approached the Princeton’s commander …read more

Source: HISTORY

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One of the Last Navajo Code Talkers, Whose Native Tongue Stumped WWII Enemies, Has Died

May 16, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Fleming Begaye Sr., a Navajo code talker who helped the Allies gain victory in the Pacific Theater in World War II, died on May 10, 2019 at the age of 97. He was one of the last remaining members of an elite group of Navajo people who used their language to help transmit top-secret military information during the war.

Born in 1921 in Red Valley, Arizona, Begaye attended a Native American boarding school—part of a United States policy that forced Native American children into schools that focused on English-only education. But the language of Begaye’s people, the Navajo (Diné in Navajo) would end up playing a major role in Begaye’s life. When World War II started, Begaye’s daughter tells The New York Times, Begaye heard the Marines were searching for people who could speak Navajo.

He answered the call and became part of history. During World War I, Choctaw code talkers had proven that Native American languages—which had few speakers due to U.S. policies that forced assimilation and drove Native Americans out of their traditional lands—could be used as an uncrackable code.

READ MORE: World War I’s Native American Code Talkers

In World War II, the Marines used that tactic again, recruiting speakers of Navajo and other languages to send and receive messages on the battlefield. Navajo is unwritten and complex, and tests revealed that it was a quick and effective way to transmit vital information in the field.

A bronze statue of a Navajo code talker stands at Window Rock, Arizona.

Begaye was one of up to 420 Navajo men who served as code talkers. They were deployed to the Pacific Theater. There, Begaye fought in the Battle of Tarawa, a 76-hour battle to seize a Japanese-held island that left more than 3,000 U.S. troops dead or wounded. During the 1943 battle, the landing craft that was taking Begaye to shore was destroyed by a Japanese bomb. Begaye survived by swimming for his life.

The next year, Begaye almost died when he was shot while landing on Tinian in the Mariana Islands. The tiny island was home to a Japanese fortress, and Allied troops eventually turned it into an Air Force base. Begaye was in the hospital for nearly a year as he recuperated from the shooting.

After the war, the code talker returned to the Navajo Nation in Arizona, where he farmed and …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The 1840 U.S. Census Was Overly Interested in Americans' Mental Health

May 15, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

The 2020 census won’t ask you about how many people in your family are “idiots” or “insane,” but in 1840 that , and “associated with all kinds of social problems.” The belief was “it’s necessary to institutionalize them and keep them away from the rest of us, because they tend to be engaged in petty crimes.”

Many nativists felt that, because they perceived a large number of social problems in their communities, there must be many “feeble-minded” people causing them—far more than the census was counting. Even the U.S. Census Bureau seemed to think this, writing in an 1880 report that its tally of “insane” and “idiotic” people “was certainly less than half the number actually present.”

These concerns about the census’ accuracy may have been the reason the U.S. Census Bureau stopped counting people with mental disabilities on its national census in 1900. However, the concern with “feeble-minded” people didn’t go away. The Census Bureau performed a couple of mini-censuses after 1900 focusing only on people in asylums, hospitals or other institutional facilities.

By that time, these institutions were no longer focusing solely on caring for mentally disabled people and teaching them work skills. Increasingly, they wanted to keep feeble-minded people locked up indefinitely so they couldn’t reproduce. “The founder of the New York State Asylum for Idiots…create[d] what becomes a eugenic institution, in many ways, for feeble-minded women,” Rose says. “Women were released after menopause, and they were often then just dumped in the poor house.”

American eugenics was most popular in the early 20th century, during the same period when Nazi Germany was obsessed with creating a “master race” (the Nazis actually took inspiration from discriminatory U.S. laws). But eugenic practices like forced sterilization continued all the way up until the 1970s and ‘80s in the U.S., targeting especially people who were poor, Indigenous, non-white or immigrants.

READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About the U.S. Census

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Irish Republican Army

May 15, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

Established in 1919 to halt British rule in Northern Ireland using armed forces, the Irish Republican Army, or IRA, fought for independence and a reunified republic—often in tandem with, but independent of, the Irish nationalist party, Sinn Fein.

In 1969, demanding British withdrawal from Northern Ireland but differing on tactics, the IRA split into two factions: officials and provisionals. Officials sought independence through peace, while the provisionals used violence to further its efforts, which resulted in an estimated 1,800 deaths, including more than 600 civilians. As the Provisional IRA and other paramilitary groups waged an increasingly violent campaign and the British Army retaliated, the period known as the “Troubles” roiled the region and beyond for nearly 30 years.

Below is a timeline of notable events.

Bloody Sunday Leads to New IRA Recruits

Dec. 28, 1969: Aiming to protect the Catholic minority from discrimination from loyalist militants and the Protestant-Majority police force, the Provisional Army Council, officially splinters off from the IRA. The Provisional IRA soon becomes known as simply the IRA, while the other faction, known as the Original IRA, quickly diminishes in stature.

Jan. 30, 1972: Known as Bloody Sunday, 13 unarmed Catholic civil rights demonstrators are killed, with 15 wounded, by British paratroopers during a civil rights march in Derry in Northern Ireland. The British Army falsely called the victims gunmen and bombers—a report finalized in 2010 found none of the dead were threats. The shooting lead hundreds to join the IRA.

July 7, 1972: Unsuccessful secret peace talks take place between the IRA and British government in Chelsea’s Cheyne Walk, the first meeting of the two groups since 1921.

July 21, 1972: Twenty-plus IRA bombs explode in Belfast, leaving nine dead and 130 injured on what will come to be called Bloody Friday. The British retaliate 10 days later, with Operation Motorman, bringing in tanks to enter “no-go” areas controlled by the IRA in Derry and West Belfast.

Nov. 21, 1972: Targeting two pubs in Birmingham, England known to be popular among off-duty law enforcement, the IRA sets off bombs that kill 21 and injure 182. This marks the deadliest year of the long-running conflict, with nearly 500 casualties, more than half of them civilians.

Dec. 22, 1974: The IRA announces a Christmas-season ceasefire until Jan. 2, 1975 following secret talks with the British, The ceasefire is then extended on February 8, but the truce ends just …read more

Source: HISTORY